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Posted on 04/14/2002 4:36:10 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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Two hundred Cubans, reportedly the most to seek asylum in recent years, arrived on separate flights over the weekend, Cadena SER radio said. It said 123 men, women and their children sought asylum on a stopover from Havana to Moscow. There was no immediate information on who the Cubans were.
An Interior Ministry spokeswoman confirmed there was a large group was seeking asylum at the airport but would give no other details. She said asylum cases are confidential.
Unidentified police officials told the leading daily El Pais that the Cubans would probably be allowed enter Spain on humanitarian grounds.
The daily El Mundo quoted one of the Cubans as saying they had come for economic reasons. The paper said that unlike asylum seekers from other countries, those from Cuba are normally allowed to enter Spain on humanitarian grounds even if their political asylum applications are rejected.
Spain, with a population of 41 million, has an estimated 1 million legal immigrants and several hundred thousand illegal immigrants. It receives nearly a quarter of all new immigrants to the European Union. [End]
Fighting fear in Cuba Miami Herald -[Excerpt] And what a document the petitioners signed. A widely supported petition is the only legal method by which to generate citizen-sponsored legislative change, according to Cuba's constitution. The petition asks the National Assembly to consider laws guaranteeing economic, social and political freedoms. Among those are free speech, free markets and assembly; free and fair elections and freedom for political prisoners.
In short, the project -- named for a celebrated 19th Century Cuban priest who advocated basic freedoms -- aims to jump-start a transition to a democratic society.
Much credit is due, not only to those who signed, but also to the courageous Cuban dissidents who conceived and led the massive effort, notably Oswaldo Payá, head of the Christian Liberation Movement. Commendably, Elizardo Sánchez, of the Cuban Commission on Human Rights, Gustavo Arcos, of the Cuban Human Rights Committee, and Héctor Palacios, of the Democratic Solidarity Party also supported the Varela Project early on.
Mr. Páya recently described how volunteers seeking signatures persisted despite thrashings, detentions and threats. They've had to hide the sheets to prevent Cuban security agents from destroying them.
The lengths to which these activists have gone and the astounding numbers of Cubans who joined them, show how ripe Cuba is for change. Moreover, the 15,000 signatures of support for Varela Project that were collected in Miami shows the goodwill of many Cuban exiles.
Rather than accept a dictator's eventual death as the only path toward freedom, Cubans are practicing the art of the possible on the island. Whether or not the regime acts on the Varela petition, the effort is a boost to Cuba's nascent civil society and has begun to dispel hopelessness and fear.
Cubans on the island, with support from the diaspora, can and will lead way to freedom. Be not afraid [End Excerpt]
Reich vows to defend Cuba embargo: 'Murderous regime' criticized in wide-ranging policy statement- Miami Herald-[Excerpt] WASHINGTON - The State Department's new point man for Latin America pledged Tuesday to stave off any attempt to relax a U.S. trade embargo that would throw ''a lifeline to a failed, corrupt, dictatorial, murderous regime'' in Cuba.
Striking a new chord in U.S. policy toward the Americas, Reich said Washington views corruption as a major obstacle to progress, and has mounted an aggressive campaign to yank U.S. visas of corrupt officials.
While touching on a variety of regional issues, Reich, who was born in Cuba and fled the island for the United States shortly after the 1959 revolution, was most emphatic about retaining the U.S. embargo of Cuba.
''We're not going to help Fidel Castro stay in power by opening up our markets to Cuba,'' he said. ``We're not going to do it.''
Reich said the Bush administration goal is ''a free and democratic Cuba as rapidly and peacefully as possible.'' Relaxing trade restrictions and ''providing economic succor'' to the Castro government would only delay achieving the goal, he said.
''Cuban people are no different than other people in Latin America. They just want to be free,'' Reich said.
Reich said the Castro regime ''makes a mockery of freedom and imposes tyranny on its people.'' He noted that a broad review of U.S. policy toward Cuba is under way, and said the Bush administration wants to bolster ``the growing pro-freedom movement inside Cuba.''[End Excerpt]
[Excerpt] The Bush administration has ordered what it calls the first comprehensive review of U.S. policy on Cuba in several years in an effort to find more effective ways to bring about democratic changes on the island, senior administration officials say.
Otto J. Reich, the Cuban-born top State Department official in charge of Latin American affairs, said in a telephone interview that he has ordered a review of all areas of the policy, including the four-decades-old U.S. trade sanctions on the communist-ruled island. The review is scheduled to be completed within weeks, he said.
While not ruling out any outcome, Reich said the administration is seeking to make the policy more effective and thus is not likely to loosen the embargo -- a position that would have Congress and the White House headed in opposite directions.
. Reich, who will be officially sworn in Monday as assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, said one area of innovation may be greater support for civil society groups in Cuba. Other U.S. officials say this may include support for human rights activists who are deemed ''traitors'' by the Cuban government.
The officials say they are considering ways to overcome the Cuban government's jamming of the U.S.-financed Radio and TV Martí, and new rules to limit travel by Cuban diplomats in the United States.
''We are going to review the whole thing,'' Reich said. ``The problem is that we have relied entirely on one component of the policy, the embargo.''
He added that U.S. foreign policy has a variety of tools at its disposal, including ''political, economic, diplomatic, informational and military components,'' and that some of these may be employed.
Asked specifically about the trade sanctions, Reich said that ``we are taking a closer look at the efficiency of our economic sanctions. I don't think we are going to loosen them. Unless we have changes in Cuba, we are not.'' [End Excerpts]
Trial opens for Canadian accused of trade with Cuba--[Full text]
PHILADELPHIA - (EFE) -- Jury selection began Monday in Philadelphia in the trial of James Sabzali, a Canadian businessman accused by the U.S. Justice Department of violating the Trading with the Enemy Act by doing business with Cuba.
Sabzali and his Canadian partners face a possible sentence of life in prison and a fine of $2 million, in a case that marks the first trial of a Canadian for conducting trade relations with Cuba while a Canadian resident.
According to prosecutors, between 1991 and 1995, Sabzali, who headed a company based in Hamilton, Ontario, made 20 trips to Cuba to sell products made by the U.S. company Purolite. On those trips, Sabzali sold $2 million in chemical resin used to purify water in factories and hospitals.
Sabzali was later hired by Purolite and promoted to an administrative position at its main offices in Philadelphia.
In October 2000, after a five-year investigation, the Justice Department filed 76 charges against Sabzali and three other Purolite executives.
Thirty-four of the charges are for trade transactions conducted while Sabzali was living in Canada.
Sabzali's defense is based precisely on the fact that when he was traveling and carrying out trade transactions with Cuba, he was a resident of Canada, where complying with the Trading with the Enemy Act is strictly prohibited. [End]
Jeff Jacoby: A walk in Havana
Otto Reich: US Official Strongly Endorses Cuban Trade Embargo--- Meanwhile, Dagoberto Rodriguez, head of the Cuban Interest Section in Washington told Granma, the official newspaper of the Castro government, that the United States economy is missing the opportunity to export more than $1 billion dollars worth in agricultural products to Cuba because of what the "U.S. blockade."
Accused spy for Cuba may cut plea deal--[Excerpt] WASHINGTON - Nearly six months after the FBI arrested a senior analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency and charged her with spying for Cuba, her attorneys are in behind-the-scenes talks with federal prosecutors about her cooperation.
Those familiar with similar espionage cases say Ana Belen Montes, 45, may already be sharing information with prosecutors in hopes of reducing a potentially severe sentence.
Montes' high-profile lawyer, Plato Cacheris, has represented some of the most prominent spies of recent years, including FBI mole Robert Hanssen and CIA turncoat Aldrich Ames, both of whom agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors in return for avoiding the death penalty. [End Excerpt]
(March 15, 2002) - (AP) 17 Killed in Cuba Plane Crash Fri Mar 15, 2002
[Full Text] HAVANA - A plane crashed in central Cuba Thursday afternoon, killing 17 people, including 13 foreigners, authorities said.
The plane, described as an AN-2 Aerotaxi, went down around 4:30 p.m. near Santa Clara, the capital of Villa Clara province about 165 miles east of Havana.
The cause of the crash was not immediately known.
The victims were listed as six Canadians, five Britons, four Cubans and two Germans, an official from the International Press Center said Thursday night.
A doctor answering the telephone in the emergency room of Santa Clara's Arnaldo Milan Castro Hospital, said he was among those who went out to crash site and confirmed that 17 had died. He said there were no survivors, he said.
The doctor, who did not give his name, said police and rescue teams were still working to retrieve the bodies late Thursday evening. It had not been decided where the bodies would be taken, he said.
No other details were immediately available. [End]
Cuba Calls U.S. LatAm Official Reich a 'Terrorist'***State TV aired a round-table discussion on Reich which was announced earlier Thursday by Cuba's ruling Communist Party, in a short communique on the front page of its daily Granma, as a discussion on "Otto Reich: a Terrorist in the U.S. Government." "Right from the start of his activities in such an important position, he has begun pouring out his sick and visceral hatred of the Cuban Revolution," the communique said of Reich, a Cuban-American known for his opposition to Castro.***
Cuba: A touching beauty-[Excerpt] "The old men are too frail to schlep luggage at hotels. And the old women can't seductively sidle up to foreign men and whisper enticements in their ears -- something you can see on any busy street, any day or night, in Old Havana Other old people pick up a few dollars by begging around Havana's exquisitely restored historic buildings, like those on the Plaza de Armas and the Plaza Viejo. Beggars aside, a tourist runs into examples of the corrupting power of dollars literally every day and in unexpected places. .. Education and health care typically combine to lower birth rates all over the world, but those achievements weren't what struck me most. It was how peaceable everyone was together. [End Excerpt]
Cuba's Castro Says Venezuelan Chavez Speaks for Him -[Excerpt] Hailing the Venezuelan leader's "spirit and enthusiasm", the veteran Cuban president said Chavez would address the U.N. conference in Mexico as president of the Group of 77, which represents more than 130 developing countries.
"No other voice could be better than yours to defend the interests of the (Group of) 77. ... You will have the possibility of putting forward the point of view of the progressive people of the world," Castro added.
Chavez, hosting a special 100th edition of his "Hello President" show lasting nearly seven hours, also received calls of congratulation from Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo and the Dominican Republic's president, Hipolito Mejia.
The Cuban leader's public praise for Chavez was certain to infuriate political opponents of the Venezuelan leader and his self-proclaimed "Bolivarian Revolution". [End Excerpt]
Capitalism's on the sly in Cuba--[Excerpt] By way of explanation for his illicit trade, he holds up his right hand and says, "Look at this." His thumb and two adjacent fingers are missing. Six years ago, Miguel caught his wrist in the bakery mixer, badly mangling it. A month later, his fingers were amputated because he could not afford the three pills needed daily to induce circulation. They cost $1 apiece, and, at the time, he was paid in bread -- six loaves a day. [End Excerpt]
Showdown over U.S. Cuba policy nears --President Bush, Otto Reich and Sally Grooms Cowal.
U.S. Intelligence Agent Admits to Spying for Cuba--[Excerpt] Ana Belen Montes, who began work as a senior intelligence analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency in September 1985 and later specialized in Cuba, pleaded guilty to one count of espionage before a Washington court.
Montes, 45, an American citizen of Puerto Rican descent, who appeared in court in a striped black-and-white prisoner's jumpsuit, faces 25 years in prison without the possibility of parole.
Among other secrets, Montes identified to Cuban intelligence four undercover American agents on the island and gave Havana classified information relating to U.S. national defense. Montes also provided Cuban agents with details of a secret military training exercise in which she took part in 1996. [End Excerpt]
Bush to Be Tough on U.S. Aid During LatAm Trip-[Excerpt] During his talks with world leaders at the conference, Bush will promote his initiative to help poor nations that respect human rights, root out corruption, open their markets, and have education and health care systems.
"I'm going to be tough about it," Bush told a group of regional reporters Tuesday in a preview of his trip. "I'm not interested in funding corruption."
Bush separately had some tough talk about Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez. The image of the world's No. 4 oil exporter has taken a beating in recent months as opponents of the maverick left-wing president have stepped up protests against his three-year rule, raising fears that political confrontation may worsen and even turn to violence.
"We are concerned about Venezuela," Bush said, citing the long-term U.S. relationship with the country, particularly in the oil business.
"We are concerned any time there is unrest in our neighborhood. We are watching the situation carefully. This man was elected by the people. We respect democracy in our country, and we hope he respects the democratic institutions within his country," the president said. [End Excerpt]
Bush Calls Cuba A Repressive Regime--[Excerpt] "I'm just going to remind the Human Rights Commission to remember that Cuba is an incredibly repressive regime. It's the one non-democratic government in the Western Hemisphere," said the president.
The UN commission meetings began on Tuesday and will continue through April 26.
President Bush said the Cuban people have suffered because of Castro's dictatorship.
"They put people in prison if they don't agree with you. There's no rule of law there. It's the rule of one person. He's been there for a long period of time and, unfortunately, the people of that country are suffering as a result of him," he said. [End Excerpt]
Jeff Jacoby's three part series on Cuba- "A walk in Havana" - "Keeping hope, conscience alive in Cuba" - "The US embargo and Cuba's future"--[Excerpt] And make no mistake: Doing business with Cuba means doing business with Castro. There is no private property in Cuba, no private enterprise, no private employers. Foreign investors must deal with the government. They cannot hire Cuban workers directly; a government agency chooses their workers for them. The investors pay Castro - in hard currency - for each worker; Castro in turn pays the workers a fraction of that amount - in all-but-worthless pesos.
So long as Cuba's dictator maintains his stranglehold on every aspect of Cuban life, ending the embargo would be counterproductive. It would do nothing to end the far more restrictive embargo that Castro imposes on the Cuban nation. It would give him the propaganda victory and the US dollars he craves, but it would do little to bring liberty or hope to ordinary Cuban citizens.
Every president since JFK has extended the Cuban embargo; to lift it in exchange for nothing - no free elections, no civil liberties - would be a betrayal of the very people we want to help. ''Tiende tu mano a Cuba,'' says Paya when I ask what he thinks of American policy, ''pero primero pide que le desaten las manos a los cubanos.'' Extend your hands to Cuba - but first unshackle ours.[End Excerpt]
In Castro s Service: The undertold story of Cuba s spying, and terror-[Excerpt] It's true that ever since the Soviet Union quit its role as patron, Cuba has suffered from chronic cash shortages, and it desperately relies on the tourist dollars of Canadian and European vacationers. Yet it does continue to pose a significant threat. Castro maintains the ability to spark a migration crisis whenever he wants, and Cuba is a money-laundering magnet. Even more worrisome is Cuba's biological-weapons capability. Castro may not be willing to provide his people with aspirin, but he has invested heavily in a biotechnology infrastructure with frightful capabilities. José de la Fuente, a top Cuban scientist who escaped the island by boat in 1999, said recently that Castro's minions know how to manufacture anthrax bacteria and the smallpox virus.
Then there's the espionage. By using an agent such as Montes to influence threat assessments, Havana may hope to build support for ending the U.S. economic embargo. A less menacing Cuba, after all, is a more attractive trading partner. A House vote on lifting the embargo drew 201 votes earlier this year - a failure, but tantalizingly close to success.
A more direct benefit from Montes involved specific knowledge of U.S. contingency planning - in other words, secret information on how the American government intends to respond to potential crisis situations. Shortly before Montes observed a war-games exercise put on by the U.S. Atlantic Command in Norfolk, Va., for instance, she received this message from Cuba: "Everything that takes place there will be of intelligence value. Let's see if it deals with contingency plans and specific targets in Cuba, which are prioritized interests for us." This type of knowledge helps Cuba understand how much it can provoke the U.S. without suffering consequences. What would happen, for instance, if it encouraged a throng of women and children to climb the fences at the Guantánamo Bay naval base? Or if it tried to spark a new Mariél boatlift incident?[End Excerpt]
Cuba's Castro Attacks West on Poverty at UN Summit then leaves-[Excerpt] "The existing world economic order constitutes a system of plundering and exploitation like no other in history," a combative Castro said in an unusually short speech. The communist leader then excused himself before the more than 50 heads of state present, saying he had to return to Cuba immediately because of a "special situation"there. He gave no details. His rapid departure meant he would not cross paths with President Bush due to arrive at the summit in Mexico's northern city of Monterrey later on Thursday. [End Excerpt]
Dismantling sought of Cuban embargo - on ''a collision course'' with the White House--[Excerpt] Moves in Congress to relax the travel ban have gained steam. Last year, legislators voted 240-186 to stop enforcing the ban, but action was later derailed by the Republican House leadership working with the White House.
'It's rather ironic that Americans today can travel to Iran, can travel to North Korea. By my calculations, that's two-thirds of the `axis of evil,' '' said Rep. William Delahunt, a Massachusetts Democrat who is a leader of the bloc, referring to President Bush's remarks in January about nations that sponsor terrorism. Bush also fingered Iraq.[End Excerpt]
Castro, Chávez Decry Inequalities, Condemn IMF [Excerpt] MONTERREY, Mexico-- Presidents Hugo Chávez, of Venezuela, and Fidel Castro, of Cuba, urged the international community Thursday to straighten out the path of the global economy and harshly criticized multilateral financial organizations in speeches addressing more than 50 heads of state and government gathered in this northern Mexican city.
"The current world order constitutes a system of plunder and exploitation like never before in history. The people believe less and less in declarations and promises. The prestige of the international financial institutions has fallen below zero," said Castro.
The heads of state and government are meeting Thursday and Friday, the last two days of the five-day International Conference on Financing for Development, convened by the United Nations.
Also in attendance are executives from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank World Trade Organisation, and leaders of pro-development non-governmental organizations (NGOs), with many of the latter supporting the arguments of Castro and Chávez.
The world is living "a true genocide" and one cannot blame "this strategy on the poor countries. They are not the ones who conquered and pillaged entire continents over the centuries, nor did they establish colonialism, implant slavery, or create modern- day imperialism," said the Cuban leader in a speech that won enthusiastic applause from NGO delegates at the conference. [End Excerpt]
Cuba Insists Bush Behind Hasty Castro Summit Exit [Excerpt] MONTERREY, Mexico (Reuters) - Cuba accused President Bush on Friday of threatening to boycott this week's U.N. aid summit in Mexico unless Cuban President Fidel Castro was made to leave, but Bush insisted he didn't pressure anybody.
Castro abandoned the summit meeting in Mexico's northern city of Monterrey on Thursday, shortly before Bush arrived, and a senior Cuban official said the communist leader was asked by Mexican officials to make himself scarce.
"We received very senior people from the Mexican government before the conference who indicated they had been subjected to U.S. government pressure, specifically threats from President Bush that he would not come to Monterrey if Fidel Castro came," said Ricardo Alarcon, president of Cuba's national assembly.
Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox, the summit host, both denied the allegations but the dispute threatened to end a recent easing in U.S.-Cuban tensions and hit Cuba's long-standing friendship with Mexico.
Asked at a joint news conference with Fox whether he would have felt uncomfortable meeting Castro, Bush responded that what made him uncomfortable about the Cuban leader was "the way he treats his people."
"I know of no pressure placed on anybody. Fidel Castro can do what he wants to do," he said. [End Excerpt]
Carter to visit Cuba; he'll be 1st ex-president there since '59 [Excerpt] VISION FOR ISLAND -
''As you probably would remember, when I was president, I departed from my predecessors and unfortunately my successors, in lifting all travel restraints on American citizens to go to Cuba almost immediately when I was president within a few weeks,'' Carter said.
``And I also established interests sections, which is one step short of full diplomatic relationships between Havana and Washington. And those interest sections with staffs representing our countries have never been closed.
``So I think the best way to bring about democratic changes in Cuba is obviously to have maximum commerce and trade and visitation by Americans and others who know freedom and to let the Cuban people know the advantages of freedom. That's the best way to bring about change and not to punish the Cuban people themselves by imposing an embargo on them, which makes Castro seem to be a hero because he is defending his own people against the abuse of Americans.'' [End Excerpt]
"The United States put a price on the Monterrey Summit, and the Mexican government accepted the deal. The money of exchange was Fidel," said a front-page editorial Sunday in Cuba's state-run Juventud Rebelde newspaper.
Local analysts believe Castro writes or reviews all editorials published by Cuba's official media.
Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox, the summit host, have denied pressuring Castro to leave.
"I know of no pressure placed on anybody. Fidel Castro can do what he wants to do," Bush said at a joint summit news conference with Fox.
Cuban National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon, who remained in Castro's place at Monterrey and was denied entry to some events where Bush participated, disagreed.
Mexican officials "with great authority, transmitted the message and specifically asked us, given they could not prevent Fidel from coming, that he leave immediately after lunch," Alarcon said.
"It is painful that this happened in Mexico, because if there was at least one thing you could say about the country in the past, it was that it had an independent foreign policy," Sunday's editorial said of the incident. [End Excerpt]
Cuba Blasts Mexico Over U.N. Aid Summit [Excerpt] HAVANA, Cuba (Reuters) - Cuba accused Mexico on Sunday of selling out Cuban President Fidel Castro to the United States at last week's U.N. aid summit in Mexico, as a diplomatic spat over the country's marginalization at the event heated up. Castro abandoned the summit in Mexico's northern city of Monterrey Thursday, shortly before President Bush arrived. Senior Cuban officials later charged that Castro, Latin America's symbol of rebellion against Washington, was asked by the summit host to make himself scarce. Mexico has been a close ally of Castro's government since he took power in 1959. But relations have been... [End Excerpt]
Despite strict government control, clever Cubans still get bootleg Internet**** In a country where the average monthly government salary is about $9, post offices sell $4.50 cards that provide three hours of access to international e-mail plus access to domestic Web sites, including those of official media. But even monied Cubans cannot legally buy a personal computer. Nor can they sign up for one of several full access Internet services available to foreigners at around $60 a month. Garcia said access is even more difficult for dissidents, who are more closely monitored than average citizens. "If you aren't integrated into the political system, there are no other possibilities" for computer access, he said.****
A great information source! Freedom AdvocacyPromoting freedom and human rights around the world, beginning with Cuba.
Cuba Turns on 'Diabolical' Mexican Foreign Minister [Excerpt] "The man guilty for what happened in Monterrey is called Jorge Castaneda," said a red-letter, front-page banner headline above the statement in the party's official newspaper Granma. Castro normally writes such statements.
"Mexico's extremely strange policy over the incident has a diabolical and cynical architect -- Jorge Castaneda," it added of the former communist who is now a member of President Vicente Fox's right-leaning Mexican government.
Castro eventually attended the development summit, but, after a typically fiery, anti-capitalist speech, created a diplomatic flurry with a dramatic walkout. He returned to Cuba alluding to a "special situation" created by his presence in Monterrey.
Cuban officials later alleged Castro was pressured by Mexico, on behalf of the United States, first not to attend, then to leave before the arrival of Bush, whom they said was threatening to boycott the summit if Castro was there. [End Excerpt]
Cuban spy passed polygraph at least once *** WASHINGTON - Even though confessed Cuban spy Ana Belen Montes already outwitted a lie-detector test, the government plans to rely on polygraph exams to check her honesty as they debrief her about her 16-year spying career while working for U.S. military intelligence. Montes took a polygraph examination at least once during her career as an analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency, her attorney says. ''At the time she was polygraphed, she passed it,'' said prominent Washington attorney Plato Cacheris, who added that he did not know when the exam was given.***
Mexicans Want Answers From Castro - Castaneda [Excerpts] MEXICO CITY (AP) - Alarmed by Cuban President Fidel Castro's sudden departure from a U.N. summit last week, some Mexican lawmakers are demanding explanations from Foreign Secretary Jorge Castaneda.
Castro suddenly left the U.N. development summit in the northern city of Monterrey on Thursday, citing "a special situation created by my participation in this summit."
A large group of legislators representing all of Mexico's political parties - except President Vicente Fox's National Action Party - held a news conference Monday demanding Castaneda's resignation and announcing plans for a protest in front of his office.
The controversy has dominated radio talk shows and newspaper headlines for days in Mexico, which has long been Cuba's closest friend in the hemisphere, and where many see that friendship as proof that Mexico doesn't always bend to American wishes.
But Castaneda, once a member of Mexico's Communist Party, has become a prominent critic of Cuba's socialist system in recent years and has repeatedly wandered into the eye of political hurricanes involving the island nation.
Mexico abstained from a resolution before the U.N. Human Rights Commission last year that condemned human rights in Cuba. Still, Cuba's foreign minister accused Castaneda of trying to persuade other countries to back a condemnation.
Castaneda was then publicly chastised in Mexico for commenting that the Cubans were getting "hot under the collar" over the issue. [End Excerpts]
Relegated to history**** On Jan. 1, 1979, following a dramatic and unexpected move by President Carter, formal ties between the United States and Taiwan were officially terminated in favor of diplomatic relations with communist China. Mr. Carter's surprise announcement was immediately denounced in Washington, not only by centrist and conservative Republicans, but Democrats who were not consulted.
In Taiwan, an angry mob of thousands of students went so far as to attack a U.S. motorcade, slightly injuring Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher, head of the U.S. mission. While at the U.S. Embassy in Taipei, Ambassador Leonard Unger stood silently as the flags of both nations were simultaneously lowered and ties severed. There hasn't been a U.S. ambassador in Taipei since, and if one should decide to go back anytime soon, he had better first find a place to live.
We read in the Taipei Update that the former U.S. ambassador's residence has now been designated a "historical landmark," reopening this summer as the "Taipei House," a space for public exhibitions. The building came under the custody of the Taipei city government in 1997 when it became clear the U.S. wasn't coming back. John Tkacik, the Heritage Foundation's Chinese authority, told us Friday that he hasn't heard from Mr. Unger since running into him about a year ago. Mr. Tkacik recalls the termination of ties with Taiwan - when Mr. Unger walked away from the embassy "with the flag under his arm," so to speak - as "a period of intense uncertainty and low morale" among the U.S. Embassy staff.****
Some peg hopes on a Carter visit to Cuba****Carter would be the first American president to visit the island since Castro's 1959 revolution. But the pseudo-diplomatic visit would not be a new experience for Carter. For 20 years, the Carter Center at Emory University in Atlanta has mediated conflicts, observed elections and worked to eradicate diseases throughout the world. Carter has made trips to nations such as Haiti, North Korea and Bosnia. "President Carter ... believes that in order to resolve a conflict, you need to be in dialogue with all parties involved and that you need to be neutral," said Deanna Congileo, a spokeswoman at The Carter Center. Congileo said Carter and Castro first spoke about a visit at the funeral of former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in October 2000, during which both served as pallbearers. Castro sent Carter a formal invitation in January.****
Castro's gone, but not forgotten - PRI rattled as President Fox pushes democracy **** But many here fear the clash could lead to a severing of ties with Cuba. "We're up against a serious matter that has never before existed in Mexico's foreign policy," said Gustavo Carbajal Moreno, a congressman from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). In last week's congressional sessions, other lawmakers even called for the resignation of Castañeda, who in the past decade abandoned a long-held sympathy for Cuba's socialist government. Some also charged the foreign minister violated the constitution, threatened Mexico's hands-off policy toward Cuba and was becoming a servant of the United States.****
Save us all from Jimmy Carter's next misstep--What is certain is that the idea of Carter's going to Cuba is as welcome at the White House as a call by him on Moammar Gadhafi or Saddam Hussein would be.
Globaphobic Vote in Brazil could alter political map of region**** If you think that the Bush administration has problems in Latin America with the latest crises in Argentina, Colombia and Venezuela, think about what it may face if Brazil's leftist candidate Luiz Inacio ''Lula'' da Silva wins this year's presidential elections in the region's biggest country. For starters, a Brazilian move to the left could pave the way for a South American nationalist-populist bloc -- that could also include Venezuela and Argentina -- that would strongly oppose the U.S.-backed plan to create a Free Trade Area of the Americas by 2005. Conceivably, the new ''globaphobic'' bloc could strengthen ties with Cuba, and with Colombia's Marxist guerrillas.****
US Food Cos. Hope for Sales to Cuba - Bush adm. denies visas---LINK to Otto Juan Reich's remarks at his swearing in ceremony.
Cuba (Castro) Protests 'Subversive' U.S. Radio Handouts*** *Alonso and other state commentators on the "Round Table" program said American diplomats had for several months been carrying out a more aggressive policy toward Cuba at the behest of President Bush's government. The diplomats, Alonso said, had been "going around various provinces to organize, finance and instruct little counter-revolutionary groups, and hand out clandestine publications and contraband items.****
Paul Greenberg: Fidel and friends**** The problem is that, like any other economy that's been run into the ground by some Communist caudillo, F. Castro and brutal company are a little short of cash just now and always. Cuba is already some $11 billion in debt, it defaulted on its international loans years ago, and so it can't get any more money from the World Bank. Or any other lending agency that has this thing about being repaid. In short, Fidel's is a typical Communist economy, that is, bankrupt -- and not just morally. That's where American banks and credit and you, the American taxpayer, come in. Because all the loans and grants that Cuba's sordid little dictatorship would need to buy our rice and shore up its own power would have to be backed some way by the U.S. government. That's the dirty little secret none of those pushing for an end to this embargo emphasize. They see trade with Cuba as still another farm subsidy.****
Cuba Backs Canadian Convicted Over U.S. Embargo**** In a case likely to widen the dispute between Washington and Ottawa over ties with Cuba -- Canada opposes the embargo and is one of Havana's major trade partners Sabzali was convicted on 20 counts of violating the U.S. Trading With the Enemy Act and one count of conspiracy****
Experts debate taking Cuba off terrorism list****A State Department spokesman indicated such assertions are nonsense. So did Florida's senior senator, Bob Graham, who, as chair of the Senate's Select Committee on Intelligence, is regularly briefed on Cuba. He said Cuba is still providing assistance, particularly medical assistance, to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and is the Latin American headquarters for the Irish Republican Army. "All that is on top of a long history of active promotion of instability in the region," Graham said.****
Cuba's Last Gamble? - Debt defaults**** As Cuba's economy weakens further and its foreign debt soars, U.S. industries increase the push for trade and the extension of credit to the island. After years of steady -- if slow -- recovery from its collapse in the early 1990s, Cuba's economy is now stalled amid a fall in tourism, a post-Sept. 11 drop in remittances, hurricane damages and low export prices. Last year, Cuba devalued its currency by 18 percent, defaulted on some $500 million in loans and reportedly closed 12,000 hotel rooms. Last month it restricted the ability of some foreign investors to pocket their profits.****
Castro, who extended the invitation to Carter in January, has publicly stated that the former president is free to ``make all the criticisms he wants to.'' In preparation for the trip, Washington is sending a State Department official to the Carter Center to give a briefing on Cuba.
''Now that he is going, we hope that he will take a message supporting democracy, human rights and freedom,'' said a White House official. ``President Bush hopes that message will be taken directly to Fidel Castro.''
President Bush, meanwhile, is expected to unveil the administration's revised policy on Cuba later this month. Plans also are under way for Bush to visit Miami in May to commemorate Cuba's independence from Spain. Carter, Castro to meet in Cuba: Visit scheduled for next month***
July 1, 2000 Lott vows to fight Cuba trade legislation---"I oppose both, and if I can find a way to kill them, I will," Lott said. The legislation is "not just about Cuba" but also about getting food and medicine to Libya, Iran and other countries "that are tyrannical, do horrible things to their people and in some cases are even a threat to world peace," he said.
Top Cuban spy defects, comes to U.S. for debriefing[Full Text] A top Cuban spy who defected in Panama last month has been brought to the United States for debriefings by CIA officials on Havana intelligence operations in Canada, the U.S. and Panama, U.S. officials say. Orlando Brito Pestana was expelled in 1994 from Canada, among Cuba's top intelligence outposts because of its access to the unguarded U.S. border. He was later vetoed by the FBI when Havana tried to appoint him to the Cuban Interests Section in Washington in 1996, the officials said. Brito was working undercover as Cuba's commercial attache in Panama when he defected with his wife and two daughters on March 27. He was flown to the United States two days later, Panamanian security officials said. U.S. officials said Brito could provide a wealth of information on Cuban intelligence operations in Canada, including those aimed at the United States, and Havana efforts to dodge the U.S. trade embargo by buying U.S. products through front companies and independently owned firms in Panama.[End]
Update: Cuban spy in U.S. for debriefings*** But an FBI official who has handled Cuban spy cases warned that Brito may also be a double-agent sent by Havana to misinform. ''Cuba has one of the most aggressive intelligence operations in the world, and until we know more he will probably be treated as a potential double agent,'' the official said. A State Department spokesman said he could not confirm Brito's presence in the United States. The usual CIA procedure is to keep foreign defectors under wraps while they are debriefed in isolation.***
Cuba, Russia in dock at rights meet, China escapes *** China had been widely expected to avoid official criticism in the absence of the United States, which failed to win re-election to the 53-nation Commission in an upset vote in New York last autumn. In past years, the United States had always sponsored a motion critical of Beijing for its policies towards Tibet and religious minorities, but no other country had been willing to take over the role in the absence of Washington.
Human rights activists lashed out at the European Union in particular for its reluctance to take China to task. "The EU clearly neither possess the courage or political will to make an objective defence of the Tibetan people's rights," said Tsweang Lhadon of the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy. But diplomats said that Washington still made its diplomatic weight felt when Latin American states agreed to bring a motion attacking the rights record of the government of Cuban President Fidel Castro. ***
Clinton and Castro on Bosch and Bush: Coulter slams the left for treatment of anti-communist Cuban*** In the honest reporting Americans have come to expect from the mainstream media, Newsweek went on to explain that Bosch - quote - "blew up an airliner in 1976, killing 73, and was freed from jail in 1990 by then-President Bush under pressure from his son Jeb and Cuban exiles." On the basis of the Newsweek account, one might think that Bosch blew up an airliner in 1976, killing 73, and was freed from jail in 1990 by then-President Bush under pressure from his son Jeb and Cuban exiles. In fact, Bosch was cleared of any connection to the airline bombing. Twice. In Venezuelan courts.***
Cuba protests ouster of Venezuela's Chavez*** Rodriguez criticized the United States for not condemning Chavez's overthrow, saying that "the Yankees are almost always behind coups ... and install dictators."***
Castro Watch: for Castro Watch articles.
Other Bump Lists at: Free Republic Bump List Register
And I will cross-link it here:
Speaking of which, I see Clive has flagged me on that "Where Mugabe went wrong" post-- I suspect his communist ties and murderous past are somehow involved....
Another soulless mate of Castro's.
The INS--i.e. Meissner, reporting to Reno, reporting to President Clinton--rejected out of hand Elian's standing to apply for political asylum (PA). But that was apparently not the advice Meissner received from Sanchez-Roig, who said that the U.S. government could "potentially accept the child's asylum's application and advise that there is no prohibition on age to child filing application. As such PA should proceed."
And that is far from the most infuriating revelation. According to Chardy, "Hand-scrawled notes at the bottom of the two-page memo said then-INS Commissioner Doris Meissner ordered the destruction of the memo one day after it was written when she learned of its existence. According to the notes, Meissner ordered that no more discussions related to Elian be committed to writing." Luckily for the cause of truth, someone at the INS had forwarded the e-mail out of the system by the time Meissner tried to sweep over her traces.***
"I'm very concerned about what message it sends about our support for democracy there and around the world," said Senator Tom Daschle, the Democratic majority leader. "I think that we've got to be supportive of democratic principles even when they choose to elect people we don't like."
In some ways, the back-and-forth between administration officials and Democrats recalled the suspicion and bitter policy battles over Central America and Cuba during the Reagan administration. The administration's foreign policy team is dominated by anti-Castro hard-liners, who fought those policy battles, and they are running afoul of familiar antagonists including Senator Christopher Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat who has long specialized in Latin American affairs.
Mr. Dodd expressed dismay that the administration had been slow to criticize Mr. Chávez's ouster. Administration officials erroneously reported on Friday that Mr. Chávez had resigned and said his antidemocratic behavior was responsible for his undoing. Only after Mr. Chávez had been restored on Saturday did the administration support a resolution at the Organization of American States condemning the interruption of democratic rule.
"While all the details of the attempted coup in Venezuela are not yet known, what is clear is that the vast majority of governments in the hemisphere lived up to their responsibilities under the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and denounced the unconstitutional efforts to take power from a government which had been freely elected," Mr. Dodd said.
Mr. Reich, who is a Cuban exile, warned Congressional aides that there was more at stake in Venezuela than the success or failure of Mr. Chávez. American officials accuse Mr. Chávez of meddling with the historically independent state oil company, providing haven to Colombian guerrillas and bailing out Cuba with preferential rates on oil.
In the closed door briefing, Mr. Reich said the administration had received reports that "foreign paramilitary forces" suspected to be Cubans were involved in the bloody suppression of anti-Chávez demonstrators, in which at least 14 people were killed, a Congressional official said today.
Mr. Reich, who declined to be interviewed today, offered no evidence for his assertion, the official said. ***
Cuba sent additional "teachers" and "doctors" to help in the proselytizing. And China -- notorious for violations of human rights and unfriendliness to America - also sent "workers" to help Chavez's regime.
As Castro did in Cuba after 1959, the armed forces of Venezuela were reorganized by putting Chavez's cronies in charge of all important positions in the military. And as in Cuba, promotions became conditional on political beliefs. Cuban military advisers and intelligence operatives descended on Venezuela to help organize the repressive apparatus necessary to keep the new dictator in place.
The so-called "Cubanization" of Venezuela was well underway when, on June 10, 2001, Chavez, following Castro's example and guidelines, created paramilitary battalions to repress and intimidate his political adversaries. While in Cuba they are called "Rapid Response Brigades" Chavez called his "Bolivarian Circles."***
Executive Director of Carter Institute: Dr. John Hardman - Child psychiatrist --headed the Initiative to Reduce Global Tobacco Use. *** During his 1977-1981 presidential term, Carter slightly eased diplomatic and travel restrictions to Cuba. The delegation will include Latin America scholar Robert Pastor, an Emory University professor. He also is adviser to the Carter Center's Americas program, established in 1986 to strengthen democracy in the Western Hemisphere. Among others in the group will be Dr. John Hardman, a physician and executive director of the Carter Center, which the Carters founded in 1982 as a nonprofit organization to advance peace and health worldwide.
I guess he's going to tell Castro to stop making cigars and give Elian a once over.
National Security Council (1977-81) , fellow-Carter Center: Robert A. Pastor Toward a North American Community: Lessons from the Old World for the New
I guess he's going to reminisce with Jimmy and Fidel about setting up Cuban - U.S. Interest Sections and lifting of travel ban during Carter's presidency.
1976 Jimmy Carter Times Man of the Year.
Old Foes United in Their Grief: Presidents Carter and Castro Both Felt Close to our Late Prime Minister *** Each had their special relationship with Trudeau. While president in 1977-81, Carter sought advice on world affairs from the more senior statesman. "I think, more than any other person I know, Pierre Trudeau has been a symbol of unity, of human rights, of democracy and freedom around the world and was a great leader, even to help American presidents," Carter said. Castro's relationship with Trudeau was sealed during the PM's historic visit to Cuba in 1976. The trip opened a new era of friendship that continues today. The Cuban leader's affection is so strong that, before leaving Havana for the funeral, he declared a three-day period of mourning and had the flags of his nation lowered to half-staff.***
Carter to visit Cuba; he'll be 1st ex-president there since '59*** ''As you probably would remember, when I was president, I departed from my predecessors and unfortunately my successors, in lifting all travel restraints on American citizens to go to Cuba almost immediately when I was president within a few weeks,'' Carter said. ``And I also established interests sections, which is one step short of full diplomatic relationships between Havana and Washington. And those interest sections with staffs representing our countries have never been closed.***
The editor called it a "very sorry and dirty affair, a terrible thing. Nobody believed us." The Cuban-American community was talking about all of the things covered in this memo, he said. "We were kicked in the face," the editor said. "The major media and the Clinton administration presented it as though we deserved [the outcome]."
Chris Farrell of Judicial Watch believes the core issues largely were ignored because the events surrounding Elian were chaotic and "all a blur." "People went for the easy, quick no-brainer story, as opposed to addressing the deeper issues of policy decision-making and analysis," he said. Farrell recalls there was no shortage of stories covering the "emotionalism" of "people waving their arms in front of the home," but the most important issues largely were ignored.***
The administration of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez is among few in the hemisphere expected to side with Cuba and vote against the measure. Cuba backed Chavez's return to power on Sunday after a two-day military coup. "The government of the United States - using its preferred weapons of pressure and blackmail and with the humiliating servility of some governments in the region - seeks tomorrow in Geneva to execute a new maneuver against Cuba," the Communist Party daily Granma said Thursday.***
Castro said in the note appearing in the Juventud Rebelde newspaper that his foreign ministry contacted representatives of foreign missions in Cuba and Venezuela early April 12 to "prevent Chavez from immolating himself in the Miraflores Palace, as he was proposing, with the 300 Bolivarian cadre (supporters) and the Honor Guard accompanying him."
Chavez considers Castro a friend and at one point during the crisis did talk with him on the telephone, Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque confirmed last week. He refused to give details. Castro's statements appeared to be in response to news reports from Spain, citing Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar about contacts with Cuba during the Venezuelan crisis.***
Freedom isn't free. Either they're free or they remain slaves, begging for crumbs.
In a joint statement Thursday, the two countries condemned terrorism as well as the sanctions. They also called for establishment of an independent Palestinian state and the return of all Palestinian refugees to their homeland. The statement called for cooperation at the United Nations as well as in the Group of 77 countries and the Non-Aligned Movement. Iran currently heads the G-77, an association of developing countries. They agreed also to continue cooperation in pharmaceuticals and medical training.
Before departing Iran, Castro stopped off at the north Tehran home of the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, father of the Iranian revolution. He was shown a short film on Khomeini's life and visited his library before heading on to the airport. Earlier in his visit, Castro had laid a wreath at Khomeini's grave.
U.S. sanctions have been in place against Iran since the revolution. Washington severed ties and imposed sanctions after Muslim militants stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.
March 17, 2001- Cuba's Castro Says Venezuelan Chavez Speaks for Him *** Hailing the Venezuelan leader's "spirit and enthusiasm", the veteran Cuban president said Chavez would address the U.N. conference in Mexico as president of the Group of 77, which represents more than 130 developing countries. "No other voice could be better than yours to defend the interests of the (Group of) 77. ... You will have the possibility of putting forward the point of view of the progressive people of the world," Castro added.
Chavez, hosting a special 100th edition of his "Hello President" show lasting nearly seven hours, also received calls of congratulation from Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo and the Dominican Republic's president, Hipolito Mejia. The Cuban leader's public praise for Chavez was certain to infuriate political opponents of the Venezuelan leader and his self-proclaimed "Bolivarian Revolution". ***
Burdsall, who moved to Cuba in 1955, is one of more than a dozen Americans who call this communist island home, still clinging to the ideals of a socialist revolution as capitalism expands its hold around the globe. "I would like to be a good communist but I don't think they exist," the white-haired fiery grandmother says. "Socialism, however, is a good step toward that perfect society; it's an interim."***
Castro, speaking before a national TV audience, insisted Fox lied about the Cuban leader's hasty departure last month from a U.N. aid summit in Monterrey, Mexico. Cuba said at the time that Mexico, working on behalf of the United States, pressured Castro to either stay away from the summit or make himself scarce before President Bush (news - web sites) arrived. Mexican President Vicente Fox and Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda both denied pressuring Castro to leave. "They were all lying left and right," Castro said.
The Cuban president played a tape of a private telephone conversation he had with Fox on the eve of the summit, in which Fox clearly urged Castro to leave the meeting early and urged him "not to attack the United States or President Bush." On the tape Fox asks Castro to make his presentation at the summit and to return to Cuba on Thursday "so that you don't make Friday complicated for me." Bush was scheduled to arrive on Friday. Making public the tape was a clear break with presidential protocol. Castro said the aftermath "of telling these truths could be that diplomatic relations are severed." ***
"If anyone could prove that such a conversation never took place, and that those were not President Fox's words, I would firmly offer my immediate resignation to all my positions and responsibilities at the head of the Cuban state and revolution," Castro declared. "My honor would not permit me to continue at the head of this country," he added to the statement, which was broadcast live on state radio and television across the island.***
As a matter of fact, two days before this conversation, Castro had told reporters he may not attend the conference and that Hugo Chavez could speak for him. ______________March 17, 2002 - Cuba's Castro Says Venezuelan Chavez Speaks for Him***"Even if I don't go, we, I, feel represented in your words," Castro told Chavez in a telephone call during a marathon live broadcast of the Venezuelan leader's weekly "Hello President" television and radio program. ***
In an attempt to limit the political damage, Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Fein, had earlier declined an invitation to appear before a hearing of the committee today on the IRA's relationship with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia [Farc] narco-terrorists. "Colombian authorities assert that not only has the IRA operated in the former safe haven on behalf of the Farc, but also the Iranians, Cubans, and possibly Eta [Basque terrorists], among others," a summary of the committee's report said.
The inquiry was launched last summer after James Monaghan and Martin McAuley, both convicted of IRA offences, and Niall Connolly, Sinn Fein's representative in Cuba, were arrested in Bogota and charged with aiding the Farc. "Colombia is a potential breeding ground for international terror equalled perhaps only by Afghanistan, and the IRA findings are the strongest among these global links because of the arrests of the three Irish nationals and the accompanying evidence," said the summary.***
Castro said he reluctantly made the conversation public to prove his assertion that Mexican authorities discouraged him from attending a U.N. poverty summit in the northern Mexican city of Monterrey, then had him leave early, so his visit there would not coincide with that of U.S. President George W. Bush. "The government of Mexico does not record nor does it divulge the content of conversations, much less those previously agreed upon as private," the Mexican government said in a statement.***
Monday night, Castro accused Fox of caving in to U.S. pressure. The harsh words follow last Friday's vote at the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva, where Mexico was one of eight Latin American countries that supported a resolution calling for greater political and human rights in Cuba.
In news conferences and interviews last month, both Fox and Mexican Foreign Secretary Jorge Castañeda denied pressuring Castro. Pro-Cuba opposition legislators in Mexico tried for weeks to make Castañeda testify before congress about Castro's hasty, huffy exit from the conference. Now they want Fox to explain before congress or on national television. ''This demonstrates that President Fox lied to the Mexican people. How can we support a president who lies?'' said Congressman Sergio Acosta Salazar of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution, the second-ranking member of the Foreign Relations Commission in the lower house of Mexico's National Congress.
For more than seven decades before Fox, Mexico was run by the left-leaning Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI, in its Spanish initials), which grew out of the Mexican revolution of 1910-17. Acosta's leftist party splintered off from the PRI, and both parties are assailing the conservative Fox. Sen. Silvia Hernandez, a PRI leader and the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Commission, also called on Fox to explain himself. PRI governments stayed out of Cuba's domestic affairs, and in return Castro did not fund or support leftist revolutionaries in Mexico -- the country from which he launched his own rise to power -- as he did elsewhere in Latin America.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Fox administration began firing back. Foreign Secretary Castañeda denied that he or Fox had lied and said Castro was not pressured. What was asked of Castro, he said, was also asked of the United States: that both countries put aside their rivalries to avoid hijacking the development summit.
In a radio interview, Castañeda suggested that Castro feels threatened at home by his growing isolation in Latin America and by growing global support for universal principles of human rights. ''In effect the isolation of the government of Fidel Castro grows greater every day,'' Castañeda said. ``This resolution in Geneva came not from the Czechs but from Latin Americans.'' Throughout much of Castro's four-decade rule, the United States has sponsored U.N. resolutions condemning the lack of democratic rights in Cuba. In recent years, former communist countries such as the Czech Republic and Poland have sponsored the resolutions, but this year Uruguay took the lead and was backed by six other Latin American nations on the Human Rights Commission; Venezuela voted against and Brazil and Ecuador abstained. Even Chile, led by Socialist Ricardo Lagos, joined the call for democracy in Cuba.
''Castro has pretty much burned all his bridges,'' said Ana Maria Salazar, a former Clinton White House official now teaching at the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico (ITAM) in Mexico City. [End]
Mexico Accuses Cuba of Blackmail ****"The problem was not Bush," Castaneda said. "The problem was that Castro had threatened, through his acts, to dedicate himself to internal politics in Mexico." Castaneda cited planned meetings with Mexican news media and anti-globalization protesters. Castaneda said Fox also wanted to avoid having Castro disrupt the summit by squabbling with the United States or protesting the "Consensus of Monterrey," an agreement on financial aid for poor nations that had been signed by virtually all of the nations at the event. Castaneda claimed that while Cuba had accepted the document without major protests two months earlier, Castro planned to "make a scandal" over it in Monterrey.
In nightly state television broadcasts this week, Cuban officials have showered Castaneda with insults, calling him "diabolical." Castro has suggested that Fox is a "decent" but naive dupe of Castaneda. Fox said Wednesday he has changed his country's foreign policy "in a radical way" since becoming the first opposition party candidate to win Mexico's presidency. In addition to Mexico's traditional focus on noninterference in other nations' affairs, Fox said Thursday that human rights "are universal and are above political and ideological interests."***
. o Has prison changed you from a human and political point of view?
It's impossible for someone to go through prison and not change his way of acting or thinking. What needs to be specified is in what direction: for good or for bad? It's an extraordinary experience. Politically speaking, imprisonment has strengthened my convictions about the justice of my struggle to achieve democratic changes in Cuba. In prison, one gets to know in depth the system's injustice and true measure. On the human side, my faith in God has increased. He has opened my eyes to the struggle that we must wage to change the material and spiritual conditions of prison life. This element must be incorporated into the struggle for democratic changes.****
What could Bush do? He could take several measures that would give Fox something to show at home, such as giving legitimacy to ID cards Mexican consulates are handing out to Mexican undocumented workers in the United States or submitting migration legislation to Congress to get Washington to focus on the issue. If the Bush administration won't put its full political weight behind the hemisphere-wide free trade zone, and if it's not going to rescue bankrupt countries, the least it should do is help the best performers in the region become democratic and free market success stories. Otherwise, there won't be an incentive for others to follow in their steps. ***
For Idelfonso Brooks, 59, a retired Cuban naval officer, working against the government he once supported has resulted in harassment from the state security police.
Brooks, a member of Paya's Christian Liberation Movement who collected signatures for the project, said his problems started in February 2001, when police left a citation on his front door, summoning him for questioning.
He said when he arrived, police chastised him for being involved with Paya and the Varela Project. He said they asked how a man who had spent almost 30 years in the navy, then more than a decade working in another government department, could "turn [his] back on the revolution."
On New Year's Day, he received another summons. This time, he said, police stood him against a wall in the station, and screamed and cursed at him. He said they called him and Paya homosexuals. They called him a liar and a traitor. They scribbled "criminal" on a piece of paper and made him wear it on his chest. They threw him into a cell and kept him in custody for nearly seven hours.
"They said they were going to hurt my son and my granddaughter, who live in Miami," said Brooks, a small man whose severe vision problems forced him to retire early.
"If I had any doubt about what I was doing in this movement, I didn't anymore," Brooks said, bursting into deep, uncontrollable sobs.
"I never in my whole life thought that the revolution I dedicated my life to could do something like this," he said. "I feel so guilty. We Cubans have hurt so many other Cubans. After 43 years [of Castro], I have only suffering and I see no future. But maybe if this project works we will have reconciliation. All this hate must end." ..
Paya said one more strategic obstacle looms: The National Assembly is now saying that all 10,000 signers must appear before a notary public to notarize their signatures. Paya said he had a strategy for dealing with that, but would not reveal it until the signatures arrive at the assembly.
Asked if he were dreaming to think that he could outmaneuver Castro, Paya smiled.
"If you don't have dreams, you can't get results," he said. [End Excerpts]
Dodd may be less interested in protecting democracy in Venezuela than in settling old scores with Reich. That seems out of character for the easy-going, politically ambitious Connecticut senator. But Dodd's longtime adviser on Latin American affairs, Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffer Janice O'Connell, has not forgiven Reich for his aggressive support for Nicaraguan Contras. She also sees the Cuban-born Reich as an obstacle to warm relations with Castro's Cuba. O'Connell impresses on State Department officials that she represents the permanent government whose word must be heeded by temporary presidential appointees. When Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage went to Capitol Hill to confer with Dodd last week, O'Connell was at the senator's side.****
Bolton, the State Department's top nonproliferation official, called on Cuba to cease transfers of biological weapons technology to "rogue states and to fully comply with all of its obligations under the Biological Weapons Convention." His remarks were prepared for delivery to the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research group. Bolton said that despite Cuba's membership on the terrorism list, that nation's threat to American security has been underplayed.
"For four decades Cuba has maintained a well-developed and sophisticated biomedical industry, supported until 1990 by the Soviet Union," Bolton said. "This industry is one of the most advanced in Latin America, and leads in the production of pharmaceuticals and vaccines that are sold worldwide. Analysts and Cuban defectors have long cast suspicion on the activities conducted in these biomedical facilities," he said. He noted an official U.S. government report in 1998 concluded that Cuba did not represent a significant military threat to the United States or the region.
Bolton said the Clinton administration may have overlooked Cuba as a potential threat because of the influence of what he called the country's aggressive intelligence operations in the United States. He said this included recruiting the Defense Intelligence Agency's senior Cuba analyst, Ana Belen Montes, to spy for Cuba. "Montes not only had a hand in drafting the 1998 Cuba report but also passed some of our most sensitive information about Cuba back to Havana," he said. Montes was arrested last fall and pleaded guilty to espionage on March 19. [End]
"The United States believes that Cuba has at least a limited offensive biological warfare research and development effort," Mr. Bolton said at the Heritage Foundation. "Cuba has provided dual-use biotechnology to other rogue states. We are concerned that such technology could support [bioweapons] programs in those states." In a later interview, a senior administration official said Washington has gathered "broad and deep" evidence of Cuba's pursuit of such weapons but is "constrained" in what it can disclose publicly.***
They formed the "Group of Four" and in 1997 published the document that landed them in jail, "The Homeland is for All." Their statement criticized a draft document issued by the Communist Party before its national congress that year, saying it focused on the glories of the revolution but offered no pragmatic proposals to the nation's economic ills. The four were convicted behind closed doors in 1999. Bonne, Gomez and Roque received sentences ranging from 3 to four years, and were freed in early 2000.***
Further to the south in Latin America, Hezbollah and the terrorist Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) are operating in the tri-border region of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. The suspected activities of these groups include counterfeiting U.S. currency and drug smuggling, with the area in which they function described as a "haven for Islamic extremists" by the administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Asa Hutchinson, in testimony before the House International Relations Committee. "The situation in the tri-border area [of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil] highlights the ease with which terrorist organizations can infiltrate and assimilate in other countries and go relatively undetected for an extended period of time," Hutchinson stated.
The linkage among various terrorist groups and nations associated with support of terrorism in Latin America combines considerable financial resources and technological expertise. In addition to the vast oil wealth of Iran, the South American terrorist network can rely upon South American drug money to finance its activities. Colombia alone produces 90 percent of the cocaine and "at least" 70 percent of the heroin sold in the U.S., according to estimates of the House International Relations Committee.***
*** Michael Powers, an analyst at the Chemical and Biological Arms Control Institute in Washington, said weapons experts usually have included Cuba on lists of countries with germ-warfare capability. But "it was never clear that they were using their biomedical infrastructure to produce agents or to try to turn them into weapons," Powers said. There is disagreement on how much proof exists that Cuba is developing a dangerous germ-weapons capability. Stephen Johnson, a specialist on Latin American affairs at Heritage Foundation, said some Cuban emigrants have pointed to dangers. He said Jose de la Fuenta, an emigre scientist who formerly worked at the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in Havana, has reported that Cuba sold Iran technology to produce the recombinant hepatitis B vaccine. The equipment could also be used to produce germ-warfare agents, he said. Johnson said U.S. officials' suspicions have been aroused by the fact that Cuba has spent millions on sophisticated biomedical gear, even though it often has shortages of basic medical products. Some analysts scoffed at the suggestion Cuba is trying to develop such weapons.
Peter Hakim, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington research center on Latin American affairs, said there has been scant evidence that Cuba was developing such a program. "This is just nuts," he said. "If [Bolton] has any evidence . . . he ought to make it public. Otherwise it's just a smear tactic." Julia E. Sweig, deputy director for Latin American studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, a New York-based research center, speculated that the U.S. government had debriefed many Cuban exiles in search of information on the program but had come up with little. She said the remarks suggest the Bush administration, under pressure from anti-Castro Cuban Americans to support for their cause, is looking for a way to make its Cuba policy more distinctive from the Clinton administration's.***