Thursday, March 26, 2009

Supreme Court Rejects Posada Case [Updated]

Today, Alejandro Armengol links to a Granma article that reports that the case of Luis Posada Carriles, the notorious Cuban exile militant, has been rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court. The International Herald Tribune also has the story from the AP.

Posada's lawyers were delivered a devastating reversal last August when the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against them, allowing Posada's case on criminal immigration charges to continue. Back in August, it was expected that the Supreme Court would not take the case.

Earlier this month, Luis Posada Carriles attended the Eight National Congress of Alpha 66 at the Big Five Club in West Miami. The event also served as an exhibition of Posada's paintings.


Update: Radio Mambi this morning read El Nuevo Herald on Posada's Supreme Court rejection. Posada's lawyer, Arturo Hernandez, is asking to postpone the trial until next year. Which is very odd because in the article Hernandez says that he was not surprised by the Supreme Court's rejection, but now he needs at least TEN MONTHS to prepare his case for 2010. If he anticipated a rejection, which was the likely decision by the US Supreme Court, what has he been doing for the past SIX MONTHS since the Fifth Circuit Court's decision last August?

There have been sufficient delays in this case.

After the El Nuevo Herald article was read, co-host Enrique Encinosa, who also serves as a news editor for Radio Mambi, commented that this entire judicial process is "offensive" and "shameful" given Posada age and historical background. (Encinosa believes certain acts of terrorism are justified.)

Back in November 15, 2007, Posada's lawyer, Arturo Hernandez, appeared before a US House Subcommittee and explained:

"Mr. Posada Carriles is now almost 80 years old. His is the story of a man’s singular mission to combat Castro’s violent revolutionary communism in all its manifestations and permutations wherever it has reared its ugly head and at whatever personal cost to him. His individual struggle against communism was in a very real sense the often unobserved struggle of our hemisphere to avoid the sovietization of Latin America as part of the great ideological and strategic contest between the United States and the Soviet Union known as the 'Cold War'... and, it is no exaggeration to suggest that more than a few South American and Central American countries owe their democracies to the sacrifices incurred by men and women such as Mr. Posada Carriles."

Hernandez dismisses the accusations of Posada's involvement in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban civilian plane that killed 73 people because the "forensic evidence alone proves that he is innocent." But, I have written before that there's good reason to believe that the forensic evidence in that case is most likely worthless.

[Photo above of Luis Posada Carriles recently at the Big Five, from Alpha 66 website.]

How Much Longer?

I was wandering around the "internets" and noticed that Univision's website has a page called "50 Years of Exile." In the middle of the page there's a window with a poll question: "How much longer will the [Fidel and Raul] Castro regime last?" The results are:

- Six months 10%
- One year 16%
- Five years 13%
- Longer [than five years] 62%

The webpage by Univision has plenty of links to stories regarding US-Cuba relations, with plenty of pictures and videos. I thought the poll results above were pretty interesting. The poll most likely has been up since December or January. Unfortunately, the online poll, like many of Univision's online polls from the past, does not show the number of respondents who participated.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Nuevo Accion: Carlos Lage in Jail

Nuevo Accion, a Spanish-language news website about Cuba and other related topics, is reporting that Carlos Lage, the recently-ousted Cabinet Secretary of the Cuban government, has been jailed.

Nuevo Accion says that "reliable sources and of complete trust, from Mexico, informed Nuevo Accion today that Carlos Lage is in jail in Havana." The sources are described as "people very close to Mexican businessmen" who have worked with Lage and have recently been informed that Lage has been jailed. [Screenshot of article.]

This post is certainly not based on any trust of Nuevo Accion's sources, but rather a skeptical test of their reliability. Nevertheless, I personally think Nuevo Accion is sometimes driven by their ability to exaggerate and manipulate facts concerning Cuba. Also, their public contempt for many people they disagree with is not an attribute of honest investigation.

Instead, this may be a case of Nuevo Accion trying to embellish recent rumors concerning a conspiracy involving Lage to oust Cuban President Raul Castro from power. These rumors have immediately been met with skepticism. But, Lage's recent exit from his Cabinet position has been met with increased concern by government supporters.

[Older posts about Nuevo Accion]

Friday, March 20, 2009

What Happened This Week

Plenty of news to cover for the week, and so little time. Let's start.


Armando Perez Roura, programming director of Radio Mambi, has a daily radio editorial called "Tome Nota" (like saying "pay attention"). In yesterday's editorial, Perez-Roura relishes in Wednesday's loss of the Cuban baseball team to Japan in the World Baseball Classic. Perez Roura describes the defeat as "a kick delivered to the liver of the 'evil one' who clings to life and does not want to let go." [Listen here at 4:51]

Perez Roura also states that Wednesday's loss "will be a headache for sports in Cuba," and that this loss somehow represents how "in Cuba everything has failed."

That last quote makes no sense at all. In the last World Baseball Classic, of 2006, Cuba and Japan faced each other for the championship. Japan won 10-6. But, Cuba had already proven itself an incredibly strong team and was expected to do very well this year. The Cuban baseball team had won a gold medal in the 2004 Olympics, and recently a silver in 2008. And that doesn't mention the several other baseball tournaments where Cuba has reached the finals.

The defeat to Japan most likely upset many Cubans, but there are many more tournaments to play, and its very likely that Cuba will win many of them. [Full coverage the Cuban baseball team in the 2009 World Baseball Classic at the Cuba Journal blog.]


Back in 2007, I had written thoroughly about Cuba's "Black Spring." At the time I contrasted the event with another much more brutal act of violent political repression. That other act of repression had occurred in Zimbabwe targeting members of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). It's amazing how things have changed in Zimbabwe because now the MDC has grown into a much more influential political party that may finally bring an end to the dictatorship of Robert Mugabe.

Meanwhile in Cuba, things don't change much when it comes to political repression. Wednesday marked six years since the "Black Spring." Some would say that the Cuban government is to blame, and others might say that the political climate between the US and Cuba is to blame. And, I believe it is the latter.

In 2003, a few months after the massive arrests of Cuban dissidents, Amnesty International (AI) released a very detailed report on the incident. It is highly recommended since it provides the necessary context in which to view this incident. In 2007, I summarized some of AI's findings.

According to AI: "the US embargo has helped to undermine the enjoyment of key civil and political rights in Cuba by fueling a climate in which such fundamental rights as freedom of association, expression and assembly are routinely denied" and that "any tightening of the existing sanctions would only heighten the negative human rights impact of the embargo." Thus, US policy creates "a situation in which perceived external aggression is met with increased internal repression of dissent."

In the end of its report, AI made several recommendations to the Cuban government, and some to the US government, such as:

· to immediately suspend decisions on any measures that could toughen the embargo.
· to review its foreign and economic policy towards Cuba, with an aim towards ending this damaging practice.
· to place enjoyment of the full range of human rights at the forefront of its concerns in developing new policy towards Cuba.

The Bush administration obviously didn't listen, and just toughened it's old position.

Anyway, six years later, the wives and family of those arrested in 2003, known as the Ladies in White, continue to demonstrate regularly for the release of the 54 who remain in jail since 2003. AI (who counts 57 "prisoners of conscience") and Freedom House are repeating their calls for their unconditional release.

AI has also reported on the recent ongoing repression of the Ladies in White in their planned demonstrations for this week. And, today in El Nuevo Herald, which reported earlier this month of heightened surveillance of the Ladies in White, reports on an incident that occurred yesterday where the Ladies in White met a counter-protest of about 40 Cuban women. The women yelled out epithets such as "gusanas" (which means "counter-revolutionaries") and "vendepatrias" (which means "one who betrays their nation for money").

The confrontation ended after the Ladies in White, which numbered around 30, were boarded on a bus by the police and delivered back to one of their homes. No violent incidents occurred and no arrests were made.

[The Uncommon Sense blog has pictures of those still imprisoned since 2003, Along the Malecon has a good post with pics and plenty of links, and check out an excellent Special Report from 2008 by the Committee to Protect Journalists.]


"The only two Central American countries that don't recognize Cuba's government say they plan to re-establish diplomatic ties with the communist nation."

That's the biggest news I think. A significant shift in international politics has occurred in the Western Hemisphere, and the US is going to have to review its policy towards Cuba. Hopefully, it will consider the wishes of its own people, the Cuban people and the voices of its neighbor's elected leaders.

I hope Pres. Obama will have the courage to do what is best for all, and not just for some.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Garré: Integrating Cuba is Pending Issue

Defense Ministers from Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Suriname and Guyana met in Chile yesterday to begin meetings of the South American Defense Council and UNASUR (Union of South American Nations).

After the meeting, the Defense Minsters of five countries (Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Bolivia) gathered to make public statements to the Obama administration about the US embargo towards Cuba.

Brazil's Defense Minister (Nelson Jobim) said: "A key element for the United States to have a better relationship with South America is a change in its policy toward Cuba."

Uruguay's Defense Minister said: "Today Cuba does not pose a security threat to the United States. And, US policy towards Cuba is determined more by internal pressures of the Cuban-American lobby than by cold [rational] analysis."

Argentina's first female Defense Minister, Nilda Garré, said: "Today, we see favorable conditions with the new president in the United States to put an end to this discriminatory and unjust situation [of the US embargo]. Evidently, the reincorporation of a country that was many years ago removed from the OAS is a pending issue."

[AP Photo above of Defense Minister Nilda Garré and General Normando Constantino.]

Friday, March 6, 2009

Artists Send Letter to Obama About Cuba

Grammy-winning Jazz artist Arturo O'Farrill (pianist and director of the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra) appeared earlier this week on Democracy Now! (video excerpt above) and spoke about a recent letter signed by many US artists and producers asking the Obama administration to normalize cultural exchanges between US and Cuba.

Part of the letter says:

"U.S. policies towards Cuba – worsened many times over by the previous administration and criticized throughout the world – have prevented us from engaging in critical communication and collaboration with our Cuban counterparts, compromising our nation’s cherished ideals of freedom of expression and preventing cultural interchange between two societies that share a historic relationship lasting over two centuries."

In his interview, O'Farrill responds to travel restrictions on Cuban families:

"Well, I mean, all I can think about is my mom, whom I keep in touch with every day. I talk to her every day. I see her once or twice a week, and she’s a major part of my life, warts and all. We all have mothers. I mean, we need them in our lives. We all have sons, daughters, wives, cousins, brothers. And the emotional impact—and I see it on my friends, because I have many, many Cuban expatriate friends, and I see the impact on their lives and the huge gap in their understanding of existence that occurs because they don’t have access to those whom they love."

And concerning the US embargo towards Cuba...

"We do business with North Vietnam. We do business with China. I mean, it’s insane to hold onto an economic embargo that has absolutely nothing to do with anything substantial... I think that the economic embargo is something that needs to eventually be really considered as something that is old, dusty, and needs to be put to pasture."

Thursday, March 5, 2009

"It's Obsolete"

OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza has recently told reporters that he is considering the revocation of a 1962 OAS resolution that condemned and excluded Cuba from membership in the OAS. Insulza believes that the resolution is now "obsolete."

The original document, linked here, was based on the perceived communist threat during the 60s. Cuba was excluded from membership because:

"The present connections of the Government of Cuba with the Sino-Soviet bloc of countries are evidently incompatible with the principles and standards that govern the regional system, and particularly with the collective security established by the Charter of the [OAS] and the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance."

(This resolution also came after Cuba was attacked by a failed US-planned invasion at the Bay of Pigs.)

Insulza also mentions that 31 of the 34 members to the OAS have diplomatic relations with Cuba. And, its safe to say that the "Sino-Soviet" threat is not what it used to be. Cuba's further integration with the rest of Latin America will possibly be discussed at the upcoming Summit of the Americas in April, where US Pres. Obama will attend.

Bloggers for a Dream

Did you know that there are over 800 blogs about Cuba? That's according to Al Godar at the Blogs Sobre Cuba website. Godar has been steadily adding blogs about Cuba since 2007. In his first post he mentioned the difficulty of adding some blogs because of relevant content on Cuba, but...

"I don't discriminate anyone for being too far left, too far right, or too 'comemierda.' Here we are all included."

Al Godar also belongs to the blog called Bloggers for a Dream, a Spanish-language website that focuses on organizing Cuban bloggers throughout the globe and harnessing the power of the blogosphere to open up Cuban society. Bloggers for a Dream, made up of Cuban exiles around Europe, certainly represents what Yoani Sanchez terms the unstoppable ""

Bloggers for a Dream looks to have a lot of great ideas in store: plans to setup a digital video channel specializing in video material created by Cubans in and out of the island; also an upcoming conference on Cuban bloggers to take place in Spain and Miami. This conference, titled "Blogging Cuba", expects to gather many Cuban bloggers, of various points of view, where they can discuss the possibilites of the blogosphere and its future impact in Cuba. The event is planned for August 14-16, in Miami and Spain.

Bloggers for a Dream has also organized a very useful list of NGOs that readers can use to send humanitarian assistance to Cuba.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Now Everyone's Gonna Want One

I guess the guys got jealous.

Alejandro Armengol at the Cuaderno de Cuba blog is citing a report stating Fidel Castro has recently met with the President of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, for an hour and a half. And a photo of a recent meeting (above) between Dominican President Leonel Fernandez and Fidel Castro has recently surfaced. Zelaya described Castro as "lucid" and "looking very well."

According to the reports, both Presidents condemned the US embargo towards Cuba and discussed issues of further integration. Both visiting Presidents were interested in the successes of the Cuban educational system and introducing some aspects of the system back home.

The Honduras story is interesting. Back in January of 2006, Manuel Zelaya was elected President of Honduras and seen as a supporter of free trade with the US. And, by June 2006 he met with former-President Bush in a very friendly meeting showing further agreement on US free trade. But, that soon changed.

Early last year, relations between Honduras and the US started to change dramatically. Diplomatic and trade rows surfaced and soon President Zelaya was aligning himself with ALBA, an alternative trade block introduced by Venezuela under the Hugo Chavez administration seeking to further integrate the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.

According to an article in the Economist, "Mr Zelaya’s motives seem clear enough. After growing at 6% for several years, the economy has slowed this year because of the problems in the United States, its main export market and source of both tourists and remittances." According to the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA), "nearly two-thirds of the foreign investment in Honduras comes from [the US], and the U.S. is also Honduras’ chief trading partner."

At first glance, it seems like a big risk for the President of Honduras to align himself with the Cuban government and ALBA, especially when he's up for re-election this year. (The results will be very interesting.) But, according to the World Bank, "Honduras has one of the highest incidences of poverty and inequality in the western hemisphere."

With the economic problems in the US, where else are the countries of the South going to turn to? It only seems logical that they are turning to each other for socio-economic survival.

But, in Miami that logic is incomprehensible, and the Spanish media will easily dismiss it. Instead, they will all be shown as political pariahs.

[Excellent analysis of changing US-Honduras relations from COHA.]