Skip to comments.Fidel Castro - Cuba
Posted on 04/14/2002 4:36:10 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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Caleb McCarry, 43, will serve as the Cuba ''transition coordinator,'' a position mandated by President Bush a year ago to implement measures designed to help bring an end to Fidel Castro's 46-year rule and provide assistance to a subsequent democratic Cuba.
''For nearly 50 years, the regime of Fidel Castro has condemned the people of Cuba to a tragic fate of repression and poverty,'' Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said as part of McCarry's introduction, adding that the appointment will ``accelerate the demise of Castro's tyranny.''
Before an audience of Cuban-American legislators, exile leaders and other supporters of U.S.-Cuba policy, McCarry said, ``It is the responsibility of the civilized world to act to see that the Cuban family is reunited under political and economic freedom.''
Speaking on Miami's Radio Mambi, McCarry summed up his appointment with the words he said will soon be shouted from every corner of José Martí's Cuba: ``Viva Cuba libre.''
Many Cuban Americans welcomed McCarry, calling him ''a friend'' of the exile mission to oust Castro.
''He knows our cause well,'' said Horacio García, a director of the Cuban Liberty Council. ``They chose a person with commitment and passion.''
''He's extremely bright and thoroughly knowledgeable on the issue of Cuba,'' said Rep. Lincoln Díaz-Balart, R-Miami. ``He knows who's who and he knows where we need to go.''
The new post was one of the initiatives in the May 2004 Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba report. Other measures include tightened restrictions on travel and remittances, increased support for the island's dissident movement and additional funding for Radio and TV Martí transmissions.
The appointment follows a new round of arrests in Havana and a stern warning by Castro earlier this week that ''acts of treason'' would not be tolerated. Castro has accused opponents of being paid U.S. ''mercenaries,'' a charge denied by U.S. officials.
McCarry has worked for the House International Relations Committee for eight years after moving from the Washington-based Center for Democracy.
Roger Noriega, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, called the choice critical to advance Bush's ``freedom agenda.''
''[McCarry] is going to be the point man on Cuba,'' Noriega said. ***
RTE, the Irish national broadcasters, carried an interview with one of the fugitives, Jim Monaghan. He said all three had returned to Ireland recently, ''and, as you can imagine, a lot of people in a lot of countries had to help us."
Monaghan would not provide details of how the three evaded the international arrest warrant facing them. He insisted he did not consider himself ''on the run" -- and hoped that Ireland would not extradite them to Colombia.
Monaghan, Niall Connolly, and Martin McCauley were arrested in August 2001 as they were trying to board a flight out of Colombia after spending about 18 months with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, Colombia's major rebel group known by the acronym FARC.
The men were charged with training rebels to make and deploy IRA-style weaponry, including truck-mounted mortars. They initially were acquitted of all major charges, but were ordered to remain in Colombia pending the government's appeal to a higher court, which in December convicted and imposed 17-year prison sentences on the men. The three immediately disappeared.
Since then, Irish and British media reports have placed all three either in Venezuela or Cuba, where Connolly had been based for several years.
The trio's unexpected reappearance on Irish soil sent shock waves through Northern Ireland's peace process, which has been taking dynamic turns in recent days.
The IRA last week declared that its 1997 cease-fire was permanent and promised to resume disarmament soon, and Britain began dismantling army installations in response.
Spokesmen for the British and Irish governments denied yesterday any advance knowledge of the three men's return....***
This isn't a commercial for Al Jazeera, but that would be a close guess. It's a promotional campaign for a continent wide, pan-American satellite news channel that made its debut on July 24.
Witness Telesur, the brainchild of Cuban communist Fidel Castro and his ideological spawn Hugo Chávez. They say that it was created to both compete with foreign media conglomerates and offer a side of the news that is uniquely Latino. Independent, they say, from any voice but that of the people. The truth, however, is far from their propaganda platforms. Telesur is being funded by the leftist governments in Uruguay, Argentina, and Cuba, with Venezuela alone controlling 51% of the company. It will be housed in Caracas at the headquarters of Venezuela state media, where Chávez regularly opines for hours on end about impending imperialist invasion to the delight of only 2% of the Venezuelan public.
The news came four days after leftist President Hugo Chávez said he was ending cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, accusing it of ``using the war on drugs as a cover, even to support drug trafficking, [and] to gather intelligence in Venezuela against the government.''
U.S. relations with Chávez have grown increasingly tense amid Washington complaints that he has turned to authoritarian ways and become a destabilizing factor in Latin America. In turn, he has accused the Bush administration of plotting to topple him.
The latest spat could lead the U.S. government to deny its annual recertification, due next month, that Venezuela is collaborating in the U.S. war on drugs. Decertification can mean the loss of U.S. financial assistance. But according to the U.S. embassy, Caracas receives no such aid, leaving Washington without financial leverage against Chávez.
''I was already thinking of decertification as more than likely'' for Venezuela, said John Walsh, a specialist in Andean drug policy at the Washington Office on Latin America, a liberal think tank.
''It suits interests on both sides, so I wouldn't be surprised if there is decertification,'' he added.
Chávez and Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson are expected to sign an accord establishing the PetroCaribe initiative, Venezuela's proposal to supply petroleum to Caribbean countries under favorable financial terms, a Foreign Ministry statement said Monday.
The two leaders will meet in the northern resort town of Montego Bay, the ministry said.
Chávez, who was in Cuba following talks with Fidel Castro, will be joined by Venezuelan Foreign Trade Minister Gustavo Maraquez and Planning and Development Minister Jorge Giodani, the ministry said.
We were talking about Fidel Castro's recurring crackdowns on those remarkably courageous Cubans who keep working to bring democracy to that grim island where dissenters, including independent librarians, are locked in cages, often for 20 or more years. Bradbury knew about the crackdowns, but until I told him, was not aware of Castro's kangaroo courts often ordering the burning of the independent libraries they raid, as in 451.
For example, on April 5, 2003, after Julio Valdés Guevara was sent away, the judge ruled: ''As to the disposition of the photographic negatives, the audio cassette, medicines, books, magazines, pamphlets and the rest of the documents, they are to be destroyed by means of incineration because they lack usefulness.'' Hearing about this, Bradbury authorized me to convey this message from him to Castro: ``I stand against any library or any librarian anywhere in the world being imprisoned or punished in any way for the books they circulate.
''I plead with Castro and his government to immediately take their hands off the independent librarians and release all those librarians in prison, and to send them back into Cuban culture to inform the people.'' Among the books destroyed through the years by Castro's arsonists have been volumes on Martin Luther King Jr., the U.S. Constitution and even a book by the late José Martí, who organized, and was killed in, the Cuban people's struggle for independence.
Whether or not the Cuban dictator ever heard of Bradbury's message to him, Castro is resolute in his repression of his people. As Human Rights First (formerly the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights) reports: ''In a renewed government crackdown on dissidents in Cuba, authorities arrested at least 57 peaceful democracy and human rights advocates'' between July 13 and July 22. Three of those still imprisoned will be prosecuted under Castro's notorious Law 88, which mandates up to 20 years in prison and possible confiscation of property. .............
Mr. Quiroga charged that Mr. Chavez and Mr. Castro had a "regional plan" to "destabilize" South America.
Mr. Morales lashed back by accusing Mr. Quiroga of "following orders from [President] Bush."
Charges of Venezuelan interference are based in part on a meeting last month in Caracas between Mr. Morales and Mr. Chavez. The talks also were attended by Felipe Quispe, the extremist head of the Pachakutec Indigenous Movement (MIP).
While MAS and MIP cooperated in the sometimes-violent protests that have ousted two Bolivian presidents since 2003, Mr. Quispe and Mr. Morales are rivals for the support of Indian constituencies in the high Andes. Yet, shortly after their return from Venezuela, Mr. Morales named a one-time close aide to Mr. Quispe, Alvaro Garcia Linera, as his running mate.
In accepting the nomination, Mr. Garcia vowed to campaign for full nationalization of Bolivia's oil and gas resources and for a new constitution favored by MAS.
While he recently has become known as a socialist opinion leader and television pundit, Mr. Garcia faces legal charges involving past activity with the terrorist Tupac Katari Guerrilla Army (EGTK).
One of the leading conservative candidates, businessman Samuel Doria Medina, once was kidnapped by the EGTK, which obtained a $5 million ransom negotiated through the London firm Control Risks.
Some of the money is thought to have gone to finance leftist parties in Bolivia, as well as the 1996 armed takeover of the Japanese Embassy in Lima, Peru, by the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement.................***
Yet at certain hospitals, such as Cira García in Havana, the shelves were well stocked with drugs and top-of-the-line equipment. Cira García strictly treated foreigners with hard currency and Cuba's ruling elite--doctors' families not included. .....***
The trick, experts said, is to do that and at the same time diminish domestic discontent.
''There's not a lot of economics in this,'' said international economist Jorge Pérez López. ``These are diversionary tactics.'' .........***
..ROLE OF U.S.
''I cannot think of a single thing they need that they would absolutely only be able to get from us,'' said a State Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not cleared to speak publicly. 'They can go to a Spanish telephone company . . . which uses Japanese equipment and say, `Help us set up Internet.' That has nothing to do with us.''
The real obstacles, the official added, are internal Cuban policies that prevent ordinary people from getting on the Internet.
Earlier this month, the France-based organization Reporters Without Borders denounced Cuba as one of a dozen nations with the most controlled and least accessible Internet. It lumped Cuba with Iran and Vietnam.
''The Chinese model of encouraging online activity while controlling it is too expensive, so President Fidel Castro has plumped for an easier way -- simply keeping the Internet out of reach of virtually all Cubans,'' the organization said.
While the government paints them as spontaneous acts by committed socialists, Cuba-watchers say they are part of a concerted campaign by the Cuban government to quell opposition. Dissidents also have reported evictions, detentions, random acts of violence, 40 arrests and some confrontations with semi-official groups of tough men known as Rapid Response Brigades.
The flood of incidents against dissidents underscores a tenuous time in Cuba, as the government openly struggles to combat corruption and grapples with a fragile economy and a rising number of migrants headed to sea. Experts say it may also be a response to an increase in dissidence. A December report by the International Republican Institute recorded 1,805 acts of civil disobedience in 2004, up from 959 in 2002.
''We are seeing levels of oppression we haven't seen in 20 years in Cuba,'' said Caleb McCarry, the U.S. State Department's Cuba transition coordinator. ``It's a clear indication that the dictatorship fears the Cuban people.''
But Perez, a Cuban physician who fled to Colombia from Venezuela last year, faces one final hurdle: U.S. bureaucrats.
That's because Perez and dozens of other Cuban defectors who have fled from Venezuela have been waiting for months for permission from the U.S. Embassy in Bogota to emigrate to the land of their dreams.
"I want to be free," said Perez, 36, who lives in a slum in the Colombian capital with two other Cuban defectors. "But I don't know how long it will take."
Dispatched by Fidel Castro's government for humanitarian work in exchange for oil and other badly needed supplies, a small but growing number of Cuban medical personnel are using their foreign postings as stepping stones to the U.S.
The Bush administration is encouraging the defections. Last year, the Homeland Security Department, which oversees immigration services, modified rules to speed the doctors' requests for political asylum.
Experts say the number of Cuban health workers abandoning clinics in Venezuela and other countries could rise as word spreads of the U.S.program, which began in August. So far, at least 45 Cubans have made their way to Colombia.
"The floodgates will definitely open," said a spokeswoman for Solidarity Without Borders, a Miami-based group that helps Cuban physicians emigrate. "We've had calls from Cubans as far away as Namibia."
About 360 doctors, dentists and physical therapists have applied under the new Cuban Medical Professional Parole program. About 160 have been accepted, while most other cases are pending, said Ana Carbonell, chief of staff for Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., a longtime advocate for Cuban exiles
The biggest obstacle to his reforms is the psychological barrier formed by inertia, the defense of the status quo, the simulation the indifference or insensibility of Cubas bureaucracy,....
I warn that all bureaucratic resistance will be useless, he declared. We will be patient and at the same time persevere in the face of the resistance to change, be they conscious or unconscious.
Castros reform plans call for an increase in private enterprise and foreign investments, deep cuts in state subsidies, layoffs for more than 1 million public employees, fewer government controls on state enterprises and expansions in the legal sales of houses and vehicles.
But his words rang hollow to dissident economist Oscar Espinosa Chepe, who argued that Castro has not seriously tackled a bureaucracy that traditionally derives special benefits from its ability to game the system and the petty corruption prevalent in Cuba.
He doesnt want to realize that the bureaucracy has its own mentality, based on its own benefits, Espinosa said by phone from Havana. And those benefits have not been destroyed. They remain intact.........
...During his speech, Castro also announced the government would take several steps to help Cubas fledgling micro-enterprises by cutting prices on raw materials and tools and allowing the businesses to obtain bank credits and hire up to five workers without paying extra taxes.
....Castro mentioned the painful case of an unidentified government official and Communist Party member who wrote to him to complain that she was almost fired from her job because she had not told her supervisors that she went to church on Sundays
The decision would mean relaxing the 19-year-old U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, which generally bars American commerce with the nation and caps the amount of American-made components in offshore drilling vessels and other equipment at 10 percent.
The federal government is taking measures to ensure that the appropriate private industry parties are able to respond quickly in the event of an oil spill in Cuban waters, said Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement Director Michael Bromwich. That includes issuing licenses that would allow U.S. companies to deploy booms, skimmers, dispersants, pumps and other equipment and supplies necessary to minimize environmental damage in the event of a spill.
Bromwich said the Treasury Department also is weighing whether to issue licenses to companies that own and operate containment equipment that is designed to capture crude from blown-out underwater wells. Two U.S. firms developed such subsea containment systems in response to last years Deepwater Horizon disasters, but there are no others that would be readily available in case of a well blowout near Cuba.
Under the embargo, individual companies can ask the Treasury Departments Office of Foreign Assets Control for licenses to travel to or do business with Cuba. At least two U.S. companies specializing in spill response already hold such permits."........