Skip to comments.Fidel Castro - Cuba
Posted on 04/14/2002 4:36:10 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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IN THEORY, tourism could replace sugar as Cuba's chief source of hard currency-indeed, it has already done so. But tourism by itself will never produce anything like the level of prosperity Cuba enjoyed under the U.S. economic umbrella from 1901 to 1959 or even during the term of its membership in the Soviet commonwealth of nations from 1960 to 1991, when positive trade balances were secured and underwritten by a politico-military alliance.
There are several reasons for this. Since so little of value is produced on the island, most of what the tourist industry needs to sustain itself-including food-has to be imported. This is itself not an unusual situation in the Caribbean: according to official figures, Barbados, for example, manages to retain a mere nineteen cents out of every dollar entering that country. Although Cuba claims to keep 22 cents, that seems unlikely: in contrast to Barbados, it does not possess a small business class or a significant private agricultural sector to supply at least some goods and services. And even if the Cuban figure were correct, the island would have to gross more than $30 billion a year in order to replicate its former annual Soviet subsidy of $6 billion-a flatly impossible task. Mexico, which possesses a far more sophisticated infrastructure and boasts a vastly greater menu of attractions than Cuba, grosses $10 billion from tourism in a good year.
While the tourist industry has unquestionably provided a much-needed source of economic oxygen for the regime, it has also introduced new distortions into Cuban life. To anyone visiting the island, the most striking of these is the geometric growth in prostitution of both sexes. Another is the invidious comparisons that Cubans are now in a position to make between their own situation and that of ordinary tourists not only from European countries but from nearby Latin nations like Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic, not to mention the thousands of Cuban-Americans who are permitted under U.S. law to visit their families once a year. (Many, ignoring U.S. restrictions, visit as often as they like by traveling through third countries.) At the same time, Cuba's vaunted health-care system, which foreign visitors never fail to praise (often without actually bothering to visit a clinic or hospital), has been completely reoriented toward offering sophisticated services, including plastic surgery, to foreigners who can pay in dollars. Not surprisingly, clinics servicing ordinary Cubans often lack medicines, bandages, syringes, and other basics. (1.)
Since tourism-the only dynamic sector of the economy-can provide employment for only a tiny percentage of the Cuban work force, it has threatened to create a kind of worker's aristocracy (to use a Marxist term). The regime claims to have mitigated this danger by requiring all foreign enterprises, including many hotels and other tourist services, to hire personnel from a pool provided by the government, to which the foreign employers must also consign wages. The government then typically pays these workers at a rate of about a tenth of what they would earn in a free-market economy, with the remainder being transferred to what it calls prestaciones socials - that is, social services like free education, free health care, etc. It requires quite a stretch of the imagination to believe that the full 90 percent is being allocated to good works and that the Communist party, the army, and the police are not first taking their own hefty shares.
Vladimiro Roca -- recently released from five years in prison and the spokesman for an opposition group called "All United" -- said the EU measures "will put matters in perspective for Cuba, where the government justifies its actions in the name of a bilateral conflict with the United States." Tensions between Washington and Havana have soared since Cuba's recent jailing of the 75 political activists and executions.
In May US officials expelled 14 Cuban diplomats on espionage charges and is reportedly considering other measures. Washington has had a full sanctions regime imposed on Cuba, the only one-party communist country in the Americas, for more than four decades.***
"That is the problem," the official added. The Bush administration, he said, "has a very strong position, so there really is some difficulty in dealing with the issue of Cuba only in relation to human rights."
But the negative vote also appeared to reflect widespread doubts about the qualifications of the American candidate, Rafael E. Martinez. Born in Cuba, Mr. Martinez is an Orlando, Fla., lawyer best known for his expertise in medical malpractice and health law. He is a brother of Melquiades R. Martinez, the secretary of housing and urban development and a leading fund-raiser for the presidential campaign of George W. Bush among Cuban-Americans in Florida. ***
Castro marched through the narrow streets of Old Havana, while his brother Raul, head of the armed forces, marched through a residential neighborhood, past the Italian embassy. Followers carried placards equating Italy's fascist past to Europe's decision to punish Cuba.
The government said it expected the crowds to swell to more than a million, as the labor ministry gave workers the day off.
Posters depicted Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar as a "puppet" and a "little fuhrer."
Italian Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi became "Benito Berlusconi," in reference to Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini.
Seventy-five dissidents were jailed in April for up to 28 years, and three men who had tried to hijack a commuter ferry to Florida were summarily executed, ending a moratorium on the death penalty.
The EU decided to review its Cuba policy and restrict political and cultural contact with the communist island and released a statement on June 5.
"It must have been written in a drunken state, if not with alcohol, in a state of Eurocentric drunkenness," Castro said late Wednesday.
He branded Aznar and Berlusconi "fascists" and "bandits" as the brains behind the EU's Cuba policy, which he called "useless ... lacking seriousness ... gross and insolent." ***
While Dodd appears satisfied by lengthy responses delivered by the State Department to Capitol Hill June 4 on the Haiti matter and Cason's role, his office has insisted on seeing the Huddleston cable. Just what is in her cable is not publicly known. Some congressional staffers say Dodd believes the cable contains warnings that the Bush administration policy of intense engagement with political dissidents in Cuba would lead to a crackdown. ***
''It's really despicable, rude, cynical and repugnant,'' Castro said of a State Department report issued Wednesday that blacklisted Cuba and 14 other countries for not making ''significant efforts'' to combat the trafficking of human beings, particularly of women and children.
While Powell did not draw up the report, Castro said during a three-hour speech closing an international meeting on culture and development held here, he did present it to the world.
''Mr. Powell should ponder a bit on this; it should make him feel a little ashamed,'' Castro said, adding that he hoped the secretary of state would ``show a modicum of decency and correct himself.''
In its reference to Cuba, the report said its government turns a blind eye to the exploitation of minors to gain much needed foreign currency.
Besides Cuba, the State Department's third annual ''Trafficking in Persons'' report cites Belize, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Dominican Republic, Georgia, Greece, Haiti, Kazakhstan, Liberia, Myanmar, North Korea, Sudan, Suriname, Turkey and Uzbekistan.
The report has been criticized by the Women's Rights Division of the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch for lacking hard figures on the number of people being trafficked. [End]
Havana was responding to the 15-member European Union's announcement last week that it would review its relations with the island after a crackdown on the opposition and the firing-squad executions of three men who tried to hijack a ferry to South Florida. A government statement Saturday said Cuba was canceling its agreement with the Spanish Embassy, first signed in 1995 and renewed in September, to operate the cultural center in a renovated historic building facing the ocean in the capital's Old Havana district. ***
Cuban President Fidel Castro justified the executions of Jorge Luis Martinez Isaac, Lorenzo Enrique Copello Castillo and Barbaro Leodan Sevilla Garcia as a deterrent to another mass exodus. But some Cuba watchers, on and off the island, doubt that the three would have been put to death had they been white. ***
The EU is responding to Castro's recent sham trials and imprisonment of 75 Cuban dissidents and his ordered execution of three men who hijacked a ferry boat and tried to make it to freedom in the United States. This is quite a turnaround for the EU. Castro has been a master at winning the propaganda war since taking power in 1959, but his jailing of the dissidents and the executions of the hijackers shocked the civilized world. At the ripe old age of 76, Cuba's usually clever tyrant may be losing his famous touch. [End]
................. This neomilitarism is characterized by a profound hostility to democratic society and to an open economy. It also seems to have a pronounced populist accent and a dangerous dose of communist infiltration. In essence, it represents the popular dissatisfaction with democratic policy in Latin America.
The paradox is that this doesn't seem to worry the United States. Of course, that's historically typical - more so now, because after Sept. 11, American foreign policy seems to be based exclusively on national security criteria. If in the past, Washington was not bothered by Somoza, Trujillo, and Duvalier, why should it be bothered now by Chávez, Gutierrez, or whoever else might come along?***
In Pierre's view, Caribbean leaders who fail to condemn evil in their own neighborhood become ''collaborators, in effect,'' with Castro.
''When Castro can do a thing like that and not have anybody come down on him, he can be encouraged to even greater excesses,'' Pierre said. ``We must tell our friends when they are good and we must tell them when they are wrong.''
''Sometimes, there's a respect for Cuba in this part of the world because it stands up against the United States,'' Joel Simon, the acting director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, told me. ``But that's no excuse.''
Days before the UNESCO-sponsored conference, members of the United Nations voted Cuba back onto its human-rights committee, giving a perverse legitimacy to the region's hypocrisy on Cuba. The failure to condemn Castro ultimately reflects an unhealthy characteristic in many developing countries: political leaders and well-connected ''elites'' who define themselves not by what they support -- but by what they oppose.
In Jamaica, many university-educated elites promote a 1970s leftist worldview and pontificate endlessly about the evils supposedly perpetrated by U.S. foreign policy. Yet they often seem loath to discuss the grim day-to-day realities of ordinary Jamaicans: an unacceptably high level of extra-judicial police killings, rampant crime and a lack of decent jobs and public services.
After the Sept. 11 terror attacks, President Bush took the moral high road, declaring that the world's leaders must decide whether they are with the terrorists or against them, and not equivocate on the issue.
Caribbean leaders and intellectuals would do well to consider that advice -- for the sake of Raúl Rivero and other pro-democracy activists and journalists rotting in Cuba's jails. ***
"No dictatorship can exist without external support but no dictatorship can be brought down either without external support," said Alina Fernandez, an exiled daughter of Castro, who will lead the trip. "We are asking the world to help us with the situation in Cuba," said Blanca Gonzalez, whose journalist son, Normando Gonzalez, was recently sentenced to 25 years in a Cuban prison. Tears streaming down her cheeks another dissident's relative said she would tell European leaders that "Fidel Castro is a murderer." "Until now, they have been blind and deaf to the tragedy in Cuba," said Isabel Roque, her voice choked with emotion.
Klayman also called for the ouster of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. "Chavez is a terrorist, removing him in any particular way would probably be beneficial," he said. ***
Castro responded with a ferocious outburst, calling the EU leadership ''fascists'' and ''bandits'' and saying that Europe's duty ''is to keep its mouth shut because the dumb cannot speak,'' according to the June 13 English edition of Granma, the Communist Party daily.
A senior State Department official said that while the department has reached no firm conclusions to explain Castro's behavior, the U.S. focus now is on how the global community should respond.
''We already share a common objective -- Cuba's democratic transition,'' the official said. ''What we want to pursue now, is a compatibility'' of policies and tactics. Among the issues that American and European officials will examine at a ministerial-level summit this week, he added, are ways that respective Cuba policies can ``complement each other in a more direct way.
''We have been very encouraged by [the EU's] statements,'' said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. ``We would hope that there would be not just strong words, but action.''
Ramón Colás, a former political prisoner who lives in Miami, said Castro's verbal attacks on Europe were designed to create an atmosphere of crisis within the island that would rally Cubans to support his 44-year-old revolution. ''He creates a crisis when one doesn't exist because it is during conflict that Castro is at his strongest,'' Colás said in a telephone interview. ``All this is for internal consumption. He is depicting himself as a victim.''
But even if Castro's succeeds in portraying the EU as his enemy, he will still face the widespread discontent among Cubans fueled by a tumbling economy that is pushing already difficult lives to the brink of the unbearable. ***
Both men are seen as orthodox party leaders intensely loyal to Castro. A former Cuban ambassador to the Soviet Union, Balaguer in particular has long wielded much influence inside the party, which is technically separate from the government but populated by the same players. Balaguer and Lazo also serve inside Cuba's government on the nation's supreme governing body, the Council of State that Castro heads as president. Lazo is also a first vice president on that council.
As the party's first secretary for Havana for nearly a decade, Lazo has been heavily involved in the government's ''battle of ideas,'' an ongoing ideological campaign launched during the international custody battle over the boy Elián González, who returned to his family in Cuba in June 2000. The ongoing ideological campaign seeks to engage Cubans, particularly younger ones, in national politics and generate support for Castro and his policies.
It was not immediately clear what the move meant, but it follows by days the replacements last week of two Cabinet members -- the ministers of finance and transportation -- with younger people. Balaguer, who served in the rebel army that fought during the revolution that brought Castro to power in January 1959, represents a slightly older generation of leaders, known as ''históricos'' for their role in Cuba's revolutionary history. Lazo, although just 12 years younger, joined the party as a young man just four years after Castro formed his revolutionary government. One of the most visible black leaders in Cuba's power structure, Lazo has spent most of his adult years as a labor leader and as a regional party leader. [End]
Passions were expected to run high, and Fernandez and Fox did not disappoint. Trenam Kemker attorney Rob Stern said it was the most informative and emotional discussion he had seen during the six years the firm had sponsored the breakfast gatherings.
So who scored the most points?
When I reached Fernandez on Tuesday afternoon, he was convinced he won over the undecided people in the audience. And Fox said that by contradicting Fernandez, he succeeded in prompting people to do their own research and draw their own conclusions. After talking to both men, it's clear they don't agree on much of anything. One of the biggest issues is Fernandez's insistence that Castro has supported terrorism. Fox told me that was propaganda. Fernandez, who also noted European countries are planning to boycott Castro because of his recent persecution of dissidents, said there is overwhelming evidence to support his claim.
Fox also spoke of humanitarian efforts being made by those who travel to Cuba, and said more could be done if travel restrictions were lifted. "You could have a mother in Cuba dying of cancer and not be able to send her $10,000," said Fox, president of the Washington-based Alliance For Reasonable Cuba Policy. "But you can send your favorite Iraqi cousin as much money as you want."
Fernandez said such humanitarian talk is just a cover for carpetbaggers hoping to take economic advantage of a good relationship with Castro. "Don't be misled by these "I-found-it humanitarians' who take an old wheelchair to Cuba in a million-dollar yacht and then party for 10 days at Marina Hemingway with 15-year-old Cuban girls," Fernandez said.
Clearly, the best result of this healthy debate is awareness of the issue, and I'm glad we could have it in Tampa. They tell me you couldn't have this debate in Miami. [End]
"By the same token," the report continued, "if the Cuban government wishes to make information available without censorship, it will allow the independent collections to operate without interference."
Mark Rosenzweig, the director of the Reference Center for Marxist Studies, a research center in New York City, contends that Cuba has one of the finest library systems in the developing world and that no books are officially banned by the government.
He said he believed that the independent librarians had no connection to professional librarians and were supported by American anti-Castro groups. "These are a ragtag bunch of people who have been involved on the fringes of the dissident movement," Mr. Rosenzweig said of the independent librarians.
Mr. Freedman, the former library association president, said some association members had even accused the independent librarians of being "paid agents of the U.S. government."
Mr. Kent acknowledged that some of his 10 trips to Cuba were paid for by Freedom House, a human rights group, and the Center for a Free Cuba, an anti-Castro organization, which have received grants from the United States Agency for International Development. And the co-founder of the Friends group, Jorge Sanguinetty, is a Cuban exile and economic consultant whose main client is the aid agency. But those government ties, Mr. Sanguinetty said, do not change the reality of government-confiscated materials and the harassment of librarians and their families. ***
The postcards, distributed at the Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport by the Paris-based group are part of a campaign to raise tourists' awareness of repression in Cuba.
The cards were given only to people traveling to Cuba on Cubana de Aviación, the Cuban airline.
''This is not a call to boycott flights to Cuba, but just [a way of letting] those who go to that country know that behind its sun and beaches there is a totalitarian regime that represses and impedes freedom of the press,'' Reporters Without Borders Secretary General Robert Menard said.
The cards feature Argentine-Cuban guerrilla Che Guevara's face superimposed on an anonymous police officer, who in a famous image from France's May 1968 protests held a shield in one hand while brandishing a club in the other.
``Did you choose Cuba for its friendly people, its lovely beaches, its rum and its seductive rhythms? Know where you're heading. Behind its cliches, the sun doesn't shine for everyone.
' `Che' is no more than an icon used by the authorities to legitimize their repression,'' the back of the postcard reads. [End]
Seventy-four Cuban literacy experts were to train 100,000 Venezuelan teachers to give classes in reading and writing to 1.5 million Venezuelans -- nearly 9 percent of the population -- who are currently illiterate.
The Cuban participation is opposed by foes of leftist Chavez. They accuse him of ruling like a dictator and trying to replicate Communist-ruled Cuba in Venezuela, the world's No. 5 oil exporter.
In a video conference broadcast from Caracas to schools around the country, the Venezuelan leader praised the literacy program as a major advance in his so-called "revolution" to improve the lives of the country's poor.
"This has nothing to do with indoctrination," he said, dismissing allegations by opponents that the campaign would seek to impart Marxist ideology along with reading and writing skills.
The campaign, providing two hours of classes a day at teaching centers around the country, will be headed by Eliecer Otaiza, a Chavez loyalist and former chief of Venezuela's DISIP security police.
Chavez thanked his friend and political ally, Cuban President Fidel Castro for donating texts, videos and 50,000 television sets to help the Venezuelan literacy drive. The Venezuelan leader briefly visited Havana during the weekend for talks with Castro.
In a growing alliance that has irked the United States, the biggest buyer of Venezuelan oil, several hundred Cuban doctors, sports trainers and farming experts have been working in Venezuela under a bilateral cooperation treaty.
Venezuela also supplies up to 53,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil to Cuba on preferential terms, making the South American nation the Caribbean island's single biggest trading partner.
Chavez, who was first elected in 1998 and survived a coup last year, frequently praises Castro and Cuba but denies that he shares the Cuban leader's Communist convictions. [End]
Reports refuted by Beijing and Havana have appeared in the US media since Chinese President Jiang Zemin's visit to Cuba in April. "For over 30 years, Cuba has not imported any weapon from China," Cuban President Fidel Castro said on Tuesday night on a special program broadcast by Cuba's state-monopolized TV. Sun Yuxi, spokesman for China's ministry of Foreign Relations, had already stated that reports claiming his country was selling arms to Cuba were totally unfounded.
Citing a US intelligence report, the Washington Times reported on June 12 that at least three boats carrying explosives and other weapons had been traced from China to the Cuban port of Mariel in the past few months. According to the newspaper, China was taking advantage of Cuba's proximity to the United States to carry out electronic espionage to intercept US communications.
The government of President George W Bush is "very much concerned with this PLA [People's Liberation Army] cooperation [with Cuba] and movement of military equipment into Cuba", James Kelly, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said at a subcommittee hearing in the US House of Representatives.***
Alfredo Pena, mayor of metropolitan Caracas, is a fierce government opponent, who ironically depends for his financial resources on the central government. Caracas health officials say their budget has been cut by over 50 percent, with the result that their already over-burdened clinics are facing collapse. They suggest that this may be part of a plan to shift resources to the Cuban cooperation project.
Adding to the controversy are accusations that the Cubans are neither qualified to practice medicine nor familiar with modern pharmacology or treatment methods. There have been claims by Venezuelan doctors of serious malpractice that allegedly placed patients' lives in danger.
The Cuban personnel have not been required to validate their qualifications in Venezuela, and according to the president of the Venezuelan Medical Federation, Douglas Leon Natera, they are operating illegally.
President Chavez dedicated most of his regular Sunday radio and television show to denying these allegations. He added that the plan was to bring in a thousand Cuban doctors in all.***
To be more precise: the Chief of Staff of the Brazilian presidency admits, for the whole world to listen, that the ascension of the PT (Workers Party) to power is due to the good efforts of the oldest dictatorship in the continent. He forgot, of course-or purposefully declined to mention-that even before the military took power in Brazil, Cuba was already sending arms to our guerrillas. This is actually the touchstone of the PT. One should never admit that the intervention by Cuba happened before 1964 [year of the revolution in Brazil, when the military took power]. For the PT to admit such a fact would be to have its argument crumble to the ground-that the guerilla was a reaction to the military regime. In fact, however, what happened was the exact opposite.
Nothing like power to loosen the tongue of the people holding it. The timing is tragically significant, too, with the news of the 78 Cuban "dissidents" arrested last March, now convicted and facing prison terms ranging from ten years to life. Dissidents, of course, is the press's favorite euphemism to designate political opponents, human rights' militants, independent writers and journalists. (If you read newspapers, you must have noticed that dissidents exist only in socialist countries).
Diplomats and foreign journalists have tried to obtain permits to watch the proceedings in Havana, but they were denied access to the courts. This is the Cuba to which our PT owes its victory, according to our Cuba-Brazilian José Dirceu. The same Cuba who sends to prison any person opposed to the regime. In Europe and in the U.S. there is protest coming from both the press and human rights' organizations against the escalation of the dictatorship. In Brazil, however, there is a deep silence.***
o Argentina's Kirchner, who campaigned against U.S.-backed free-market policies -- and made a point of not meeting the U.S. ambassador to Argentina during the electoral race -- has said he will end his country's ''automatic alignment'' with the United States. Instead, Argentina's new government says, it will side with Brazil on major foreign policy decisions.
o In Brazil, da Silva took office Jan. 1 as head of a proudly leftist government. A union leader who until only a year ago advocated not paying Brazil's foreign debt and rolling back his predecessor's free-market reforms, da Silva said during the campaign that a U.S.-backed hemispheric free-trade plan amounts to the ''economic annexation'' of Latin America to the United States. He gave a red-carpet welcome to Chávez and Castro on his first day in office.
o In Ecuador, Lucio Gutiérrez took office Jan. 15 after winning an upset victory with the backing of his Patriotic Society Party and Pachakutik, a leftist political movement that represents the country's marginalized Indians. A former army officer who led a failed coup in January 2000, Gutiérrez vowed in his inauguration ceremony to take strong steps against ``the corrupt oligarchy that has robbed our money.''
o In Venezuela, Chávez has gradually radicalized his ''Bolivarian revolution'' since taking office in 1999. In his first year in office, he proclaimed that ''Venezuela . . . is heading in the same direction, toward the same sea to which the Cuban people are heading: a sea of happiness, of real social justice, of peace,'' and added that he would turn over the government ''in the year 2013.'' Most recently, he has blamed the ''oligarchy'' for trying to topple him, and said he intends to remain in power until 2021.
o In Chile, Socialist Party leader Ricardo Lagos took office in 2000 as his country's first leftist president since the end of the rightist dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet in 1990.
o Haiti is led by a leftist president.
o And Castro remains firmly entrenched in Cuba nearly 45 years after seizing power.***
Czechs back Cuban exiles' goals*** Leaders of the Czech Republic will meet with Cuban exiles in Miami next weekend to explore ways of cooperating in seeking the release of political prisoners and bringing democratic reforms to Cuba.
Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla and Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda will meet with President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in Washington on Monday, said Martin Palous, Czech ambassador to the United States.
They will fly to Miami on July 19 for a 24-hour visit that will include a cultural event at Bongos Cuban Café, breakfast with Czech consuls from around the country and a dinner at which the honorary consul in Miami, Alan Becker, will be promoted to honorary consul general.
But the talks with exile leaders -- whom Palous described as ''a limited number'' from a ''wide spectrum'' -- is a key purpose of the trip. A preliminary itinerary has the two ministers joining Cuban Americans on a short yacht cruise before meeting a group of former political prisoners on Fisher Island.
.''You have much more open criticism against Fidel Castro,'' Palous said. ``Finally, in Europe, we have prevailing opinion that there is no justification for that. Now is the time to internationalize a policy toward Cuba.''
Joe Garcia, executive director of the Cuban American National Foundation -- which will be represented at the meeting -- said the Czechs have the history and perspective to get the audience's attention.
''You don't have to explain what communism and totalitarianism are to these people. They lived it,'' Garcia said. ***
They are now jamming the uplink signal, here in the United States as well. The uplink signal is the signal from the broadcast studio to the satellite, which is then relayed to another satellite and finally broadcast over Iran. This started occurring a few days ago. I was told that the FCC now believes the jamming is coming from within Cuba.***
But the Helen III was the first to carry cargo under a U.S. flag and with a U.S. crew. It was also the first vessel from Mobile, Ala., to carry cargo under the recent rules. Fabian said the barge carried 1,614 metric tons of newsprint and about six tons of timber.
As tugboats maneuvered the barge to the docks, Fabian stepped aside to make a phone call to check the company bank account. ''By law, the money has to be in our bank account before we can unload,'' Fabian said, referring to the U.S. regulations that set conditions on trade with Cuba. Fabian said the shipment, worth about $1.5 million, was part of a contract to ship a total of 10,000 tons, with another 5,000-ton deal in the works.***
Not surprisingly, these repressive regimes are proposing rules that, if adopted by an upcoming U.N. Summit on the Information Society, would not only allow but encourage widespread censorship of the Internet, as well as growing state controls of TV and radio stations.
The World Summit on the Information Society, scheduled for December in Geneva, is organized by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the International Telecommunication Union, another U.N. affiliate.
WRITTEN BY CUBA?
UNESCO, you may remember, is the organization whose campaign for a ''New World Information Order'' -- with greater state controls -- led the United States to withdraw from that group 18 years ago. The U.S. government is scheduled to rejoin the organization this year.
When I heard about the proposals to regulate the Internet, I went into the summit's website, www.itu.int/wsis/, and read key portions of the draft declaration that is scheduled to be adopted in December. It contains alarming proposals.***
With a packed itinerary focused on sustainable development, McAuliffe's group, organized by San Francisco-based Global Exchange, learned about Cuba's organic gardens and herbal healing. They visited a rehabilitation center for disabled children and talked with a family physician. In total they logged more than 1,000 miles from Havana to the eastern port city of Santiago and back.***
The families said police gave them only two hours to mourn their dead, brought in coffins to their homes on Tuesday morning for quick burial. Armed hijackings are rare in Cuba but have increased this year as economic crisis makes more Cubans want to leave. Two domestic passenger planes were hijacked to Key West, Florida, in March. In April President Fidel Castro's government executed three men who tried to hijack a Havana Bay ferry. The firing squad executions brought wide international condemnation.***
"Millions of people still live under regimes that violate their citizens' rights daily," Bush said in a statement issued as he made a day-trip to Dallas from his Texas ranch. "In countries such as Burma and Iran, citizens lack the right to choose their government, speak out against oppression, and practice their religion freely," Bush said. "The despot who rules Cuba imprisons political opponents and crushes peaceful opposition," he said, in barbed remarks aimed at Fidel Castro.
There were also harsh words for North Korea, with which Washington has been locked in a nuclear showdown since October. "Hundreds of thousands languish in prison camps and citizens suffer from malnutrition as the regime pursues weapons of mass destruction," Bush said. "Violence, corruption, and mismanagement reign in Zimbabwe and an authoritarian government in Belarus smothers political dissent."
But Bush lauded his ouster of the "brutal regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq," during a US-led war earlier this year. "The Iraqi people are no longer captives in their own country," Bush said. "Their freedom is evidence of the fall of one of the most oppressive dictators in history," he said, claiming that Iraqis were now meeting "openly and freely" to discuss the future of their country. [End]
"I decided that I could not accept a journalism award purported to support freedom of expression because among 78 dissidents imprisoned in Cuba there are a number of authors and some 20 newsmen," Franz told the Chilean daily La Segunda Tuesday in an interview from his London residence.
He said "it was a hard decision" to turn down the Jose Marti Journalism Prize awarded by Cuba's government news agency, Prensa Latina. Franz said he has sent a letter to Cuba rejecting the prize, awarded for an ironic story describing a visit to the U.S. Naval Academy. [End]
The port director said he was impressed by the Cubans' knowledge of Tampa and of the port's business.
They brought up cruises, saying that if the U.S. government lifted the ban on visits to Cuba, Tampa could have three- and four-day trips that cruise lines can't offer now from the port.
"They certainly know who we are," Williamson said.***
."When Castro Became a Communist," by Salvador Diaz-Verson, was originally titled: "Since When Has Castro Been a Communist?" The article was first printed in Spanish in El Mundo (Miami) in 1960 and again in Ideal Magazine (Miami) in 1979. It was translated from Spanish to English by Jose G. Roig and edited for style by Ralph J. Galliano who also wrote the introduction and biography of the author to recreate the Diaz-Verson paper entitled "When Castro Became a Communist: The Impact on U.S.- Cuba Policy."***
Hardline opponents, backed by fiercely anti-Chavez private media, shrilly proclaim that the Cuban doctors are political commissars of Cuban President Fidel Castro doling out Marxism-Leninism along with medicine. "They aren't doctors; they're professional political activists," said Douglas Leon Natera, president of Venezuela's Medical Federation. He argues the Cubans are working in Venezuela illegally and stealing the jobs of local doctors. ***
In the 1960's Castro and his brother, Raul, believed that the political and economic conditions that produced their revolution existed in Latin America and that anti-American revolutions would occur throughout the continent. Cuban agents and diplomats established contact with revolutionary, terrorist and guerrilla groups in the area and began distributing propaganda, weapons and aid. Many Latin Americans were brought to Cuba for training and then returned to their countries.***
"Cuba does not need the aid of the European Union to survive," Castro said in a speech to 10,000 supporters marking the 50th anniversary of the assault he led on the Santiago army garrison that launched his leftist revolution.
.. Persistent social hardship in Cuba since the loss of Soviet support has brought discontent and the emergence last year of a nationwide dissident movement calling for democratic reforms to the island's one-party communist state.
Despite opening up to tourism and foreign investment, Cuba's economy never fully recovered from the collapse of Soviet communism. Most Cubans earn wages that average $10 to $15 a month and live in dilapidated housing.
For Castro's opponents, the anniversary of the Moncada assault was no occasion to celebrate.
"It's another year of frustrations. There is no future and the government offers none," said dissident Vladimiro Roca, the son of a founding father of the ruling Communist Party.***
Roque's family has said she is in critical condition and was transferred last week to a military hospital last week due to high blood pressure, chest pain and nose bleeds. "Her health has worsened since her incarceration," Boucher said. "The Cuban government should provide her with the best possible medical treatment." He said Roque and the other 74 prisoners were being held in inhumane conditions, with little sanitation, contaminated water and nearly inedible food.
"The Cuban government appears to be going out of its way to treat these prisoners inhumanely," Boucher said. "It should immediately cease this practice and, at the minimum, allow the appropriate humanitarian organizations to monitor the treatment of its political prisoners, whose only real crime was to call for peaceful democratic change in Cuba," he said. "Ms Roque and all of the other political prisoners should be released immediately," Boucher added.
Roque, an economist who heads the Assembly to Promote Civil Society, an umbrella organization of dissident groups, is serving a 20-year sentence.
Noriega's confirmation came after a long delay because Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., had been blocking the vote for months in an effort to force a Senate vote on his proposal for easing restrictions on U.S. travel to Cuba. ''We had all been waiting for so long that we stopped watching,'' said Ana Navarro, a longtime Miami lobbyist and friend of Noriega, the current U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States.
Until Tuesday, the Senate had refused to confirm a series of nominees for the State Department job, in charge of relations with Washington's hemispheric neighbors, since 1999 because of a string of political disputes. The post had been held since then on an interim or appointed basis by four officials.The unanimous approval on a voice vote, as Congress headed toward its summer recess this week, drew praise from Latin American officials as well as U.S. supporters. ***
Some Cubans were surprised President Fidel Castro's government allowed exhibition of a film that focuses on the daily grind of life under tropical socialism. While criticism of the island's one-party political system is not permitted, Cuba has tolerated films that satirize bureaucracy such as "Guantanamera," "Alice in Wonder Village" and "Death of a Bureaucrat." "Strawberry and Chocolate," which criticizes discrimination against gays, was in 1995 the first Cuban film to receive an Oscar nomination for best foreign film. The public debate over "Suite Habana" was no less surprising given the country's media are controlled by the state. ***
The issue could prove politically damaging to the president, who relied, in part, on hundreds of thousands of typically loyal Republican Cuban Americans in 2000 to narrowly win Florida and, as a result, the White House.
The president's advisors believe Florida could be pivotal for his reelection next year. Democratic challengers are already angling to exploit the flap, with Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman calling a South Florida news conference earlier this week to declare the repatriation an ''abandonment of American values,'' and then showing up at the Versailles Restaurant in Little Havana to mingle.
But the statements by the president's younger brother -- a Miami resident and fluent Spanish speaker with credibility among exile activists -- could serve to help repair the damage by reminding Cuban Americans of the brothers' close ties to them.
The governor acknowledged in the interview that losing Cuban-American support could be devastating to the GOP, noting that President Bill Clinton's success in wooing even a mere third of their vote helped him win Florida in 1996.
A key critic on Thursday welcomed the potential for changes in policy but attributed the governor's assurances to politics.
''I think they're going to have to do something, because they can't win Florida without the Cuban-American community's overwhelming support,'' said Joe Garcia, executive director of the influential Cuban American National Foundation, whose top leadership has been especially critical of the Bushes in recent days. ``Unfortunately, it took the foundation and others demanding action over things that were promised three years ago.''
In the interview, Gov. Bush called Lieberman's move a ''repugnant'' political play, saying that he registered his disagreement with the White House ``with respect, not rancor.''
Acknowledging a failure by the White House to articulate a ''coherent policy'' on Cuba, the governor added that the president would announce major changes in policy sometime before the 2004 election.***
While in the past rafters caught at sea often have been taken to the base pending a decision on their case, the sprawling military complex also gained notoriety as a detention center for people captured by US forces during the 2001 Afghan campaign. The Cubans, aboard a boat carrying 19 people, were intercepted on Monday, and were likely to remain at the base while officials decide whether they should be granted political asylum in the United States.
Cuban-American lawmaker Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and fellow Cuban-American Republican Lincoln Diaz-Balart have pressed US authorities to grant asylum to the "freedom-seekers," who they say include known dissidents. "These rafters fear for their lives if they are returned to Cuba," Ros-Lehtinen said in a letter to US President George W. Bush. She pointed to heavy prison sentences recently meted out to 75 dissidents and to the summary judgment and subsequent execution of three men who hijacked a ferry in a bid to flee the communist-run island. In a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powel, the Cuban-American lawmakers said the group intercepted on Monday apparently included relatives of Enrique Copello Castillo, one of the men executed. ***
By existing Cuban constitutional law, the petition required 10,000 signatures to become a legislative initiative. Mr. Paya was constantly under surveillance and harassed by Mr. Castro's security apparatus and many Cubans were too afraid to sign their names on such an incriminating document. Despite this, he was able to collect 11,020 signatures. Mr. Castro was only able to block Mr. Paya's efforts with a hastily mounted counterpetition, acquiring signatures through pressure.
We need to realize Mr. Castro's death will likely mean for Cuba what the fall of the Berlin Wall meant for the Soviet Union. After 44 years of totalitarianism, it seems doubtful the Cuban people will stand for anything less than a free society - but how free remains to be seen. Furthermore, America needs to make sure Cuba does not become a haven for "dark-side"criminal capitalism, as Russia has. ***