Monday, November 19, 2018

The fruits of impunity: Canadian and American diplomats seriously harmed in Cuba

"The greatest incitement to guilt is the hope of sinning with impunity."- Cicero

Canada's embassy in Havana, Cuba. 
Canadian diplomats who were stationed in Cuba suffered permanent harm, including brain injuries and are complaining that they have been abandoned by Ottawa.  A dozen embassy staff and their family members, including eight adults and four children were harmed. According to The Globe and Mail this represents a third of the embassy staff. 

Twenty-five US embassy workers in Cuba were affected by mysterious health incidents that began in the autumn of 2016 along with their Canadian counterparts.

There is a question if the Castro regime is behind the attacks, but there is no question that the Cuban government is supposed to guarantee the safety of diplomats on their territory. They have failed, and with their elaborate secret police network, their claim of ignorance as to what is taking place is met with skepticism. 

Over the past decade the Cuban government has not been held accountable before an international human rights body since the independent human rights expert on Cuba was removed in a Faustian deal to "save" the UN Human Rights Council in 2007.

Since then the human rights situation in Cuba has worsened and the dictatorship acts with impunity. Opposition dissident leaders have been murdered.

Now diplomats at two embassies have suffered serious injuries, and Cuban diplomats organized an act of repudiation at the United Nations to shut down a parallel event organized by United States diplomats.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Communist Khmer Rouge leaders found guilty of genocide today: 2 million killed in 3 years and 2 months

We will burn the old grass and the new will grow.” - Pol Pot, leader of Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge (1975 - 1979)
Communist Khmer Rouge leaders guilty of genocide
Earlier today in Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge's former head of state Khieu Samphan, 87, and "Brother Number 2" Nuon Chea, 92, the two most senior living members of the Maoist group that seized control of Cambodia from April 17, 1975-January 7, 1979, were found guilty of genocide by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).
The Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, killed two million Cambodians from overwork, starvation and mass executions over the course of three years and two months in power. They were also guilty of targeting ethnic Vietnamese and Cham Muslim minority groups.
What took place in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge was a communist revolution that followed through on its program to its logical conclusion while many in the West looked the other way, or worse normalized them.
Khmer Rouge victims photographed and numbered prior to execution
There are two documentary films that you must see to gain a deeper understanding of what happened in Cambodia. One of them Enemies of the People was screened in 2010 at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York City. The other S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine (French: S-21, la machine de mort Khmère rouge) was released in 2003. 

Both are works of art that transcend the confines of documentary film making to serve an important role in truth telling and national reconciliation. Members of the Khmer Rouge were placed on trial and the first verdicts were read out in July of  2010, but the verdict on their ideological project is still the subject of fierce dialogue and debate. Both these films can serve to not only inform but provide context into understanding revolution. 

The films compliment each other. Enemies of the People offers the perspective of the revolutionary leadership, their ideological vision, and how they applied it as government policy. While S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine documentary allows the viewer to see how that policy was implemented in day by day accounts by the prison guards and surviving prisoners.

Enemies of the People offers the perspective of the documentary's director Thet Sambath, a senior reporter for the Phnom Penh Post, and he is regarded as one of Cambodia’s best investigative journalists. On the other hand in S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine the director, Rithy Panh, is a lifelong filmmaker and a survivor of the Khmer Rouge camps who lost his parents, sister, and many other relatives to the genocide
Both films offer something I have never seen before in a documentary the voice of the individuals who committed the atrocities. In Enemies of the People the party’s ideological leader, Nuon Chea aka Brother Number Two – break a 30-year silence to give testimony never before heard or seen laying out what and why they did it, and in S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine it is the guards themselves walking through S-21 prison with one of their former captives describing in detail what was done there.

Enemies of the People was shown at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival on June 18, 2010 at The Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater in New York City. The film opened in New York City on July 30, 2010 at the Quad Cinema and was the winner of the 2010 Human Rights Watch Film Festival Nestor Almendros Award for Courage in Film making.

The award is named after famed filmmaker Nestor Almendros who co-directed two important films about human rights in Cuba: Mauvaise conduite aka “Improper Conduct” (1984) about the persecution of gay people in Revolutionary Cuba and Nadie escuchaba(1987) aka "Nobody Listened"and both documentaries are available for viewing online. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Did the Drug Enforcement Agency train Castro agents in Cuba? Is this a good idea?

Journalist Tracey Eaton reported on his website that there is evidence that "Drug Enforcement Administration may have provided training to Cuban drug agents in 2017, records show. The DEA reported spending $752 on a course for two unidentified people in Cuba." 

This is not a good ideaConsider the following:

Jackson Diehl in The Washington Post reported on the Venezuela, FARC, Cuba trafficking axis on May 24, 2015 in the article "A drug cartel’s power in Venezuela": 
Ever since Colombian commandos captured the laptop of a leader of the FARC organization eight years ago, it’s been known that Chávez gave the Colombian narcoguerrillas sanctuary and allowed them to traffic cocaine from Venezuela to the United States with the help of the Venezuelan army. But not until a former Chávez bodyguard [ Leamsy Salazar] defected to the United States in January did the scale of what is called the “Cartel of the Suns ” start to become publicly known. [...]  
Diosdado Cabello target of the DEA with General Raul Castro and his Foreign Minister
 The day after Salazar’s arrival in Washington, Spain’s ABC newspaper published a detailed account of the emerging case against Cabello, and last month, ABC reporter Emili Blasco followed up with a book laying out the allegations of Salazar and other defectors, who say Cuba’s communist regime and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah have been cut in on the trafficking. That was followed by a lengthy report last week in the Wall Street Journal that said Cabello’s cartel had turned Venezuela into “a global hub for cocaine trafficking and money laundering.”
Agence France-Presse reported on July 12, 2017 that: Ermal Hoxha (age 42), the grandson of former Albanian communist dictator Enver Hoxha, was found guilty of belonging to a "criminal group involved in cocaine trafficking from Cuba through Albania to west European countries," the court statement said. The dictator's grandson was arrested in January 2015 and 264 pounds of cocaine were also confiscated.

Ermal Hoxha was smuggling cocaine out of Cuba
Panamanian police seizing more than 400 kilograms of cocaine in a Cuban ship on its way to Belgium in April of 2016

Cocaine shipment from Cuban ship hidden under molasses discovered in Panama
In a 1991 Frontline documentary, Cuba and Cocaine, U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Commander Jeff Karonis, stated, "We would observe in the middle of the day an air drop going on inside Cuban waters. The scenario would be for a small twin-engine airplane with maybe 1,000 to 2,000 pounds of cocaine to fly over Cuba, drop the drugs to a predesignated rendezvous point to several boats. Then it would exit back down off Cuba, and many times a Cuban military vessel would be in the immediate vicinity, right on scene with them.'' 

The Castro brothers began a purge of military and intelligence officers on June 17, 1989. One week later the Cuban government revealed that Fidel Castro's closest aides were involved in smuggling drugs to the United States. Why are the two connected? Because Fidel Castro had been mentioned in the Noriega indictment. National Security Council member Jacqueline Tillman followed Cuba for the Council from 1984 to 1988 said:
''The evidence of Cuban involvement in narcotics trafficking was becoming so abundant that the regime moved to protect Fidel Castro by dissociating him from those activities.''
Less than a month later on July 13, 1989 all the officials that could directly tie Fidel Castro to the Medellin Cartel and Manuel Noriega were executed by firing squad. Eleven top officials of the Ministry of the Interior were found guilty of drug trafficking and four were executed. The closest and most powerful of these aides was Colonel Tony de la Guardia. 

Patricio and Tony de la Guardia: twin brothers implicated in drug trafficking
His twin Patricio de la Guardia was not executed but imprisoned. Also among the imprisoned Jose Abrantes, another longtime aide, died of a heart attack behind bars in January of 1991. In addition to protecting the Castro brothers from possible prosecution this also served to consolidate the military's dominance over the Cuban intelligence service and with it the head of the military Raul Castro. 

General Arnaldo Ochoa executed in 1989 show trial.
In addition a popular general with victories under his belt in Angola and Ethiopia popular with the troops and flirting with ideas of perestroika, Arnaldo T. Ochoa Sanchez was also executed.

Partners in Crime: Manuel Noriega and Fidel Castro
In 1989, a federal grand jury indicted Robert Vesco for arranging safe passage for drug planes over Cuban airspace after obtaining approval from Cuban authorities. According to the 1989 indictment, Reinaldo Ruiz was allowed to land planes in Cuba to refuel after dropping drug cargo off the Cuban coast. Drug-smuggling motorboats would come from Florida to pick up the cargo, and Cuban Coast Guard radar monitored U.S. Coast Guard cutters to help the smugglers evade them.

During General Manuel Noriega's 1992 trial information emerged publicly implicating the Castro regime that Sun Sentinel reported at the time: 

"Federal prosecutors say Noriega traveled to Havana to ask [Fidel] Castro to mediate a potentially deadly dispute with top members of Colombia`s Medellin cocaine cartel. They say the cartel chiefs were upset because a major drug lab had been seized in Panama despite payment of millions of dollars in protection money to Noriega. According to the Noriega indictment, Castro negotiated a peace accord between the cartel and Noriega at the 1984 meeting. The allegation forms a cornerstone of the racketeering and drug trafficking charges against Noriega."
At the same time convicted cartel leader Carlos Lehder directly implicated Raul Castro and U.S. fugitive Robert Vesco "to route cocaine flights through Cuba." Capitol Hill Cubans blogged how two years later, a federal indictment listed General Raul Castro as part of a conspiracy that smuggled seven and a half tons of cocaine into the United States over a 10-year period but the Clinton administration overruled prosecutors

In 2014 Juan Reinaldo Sanchez who served as a bodyguard to Fidel Castro for 17 years published a book of memoirs "The Double Life of Fidel Castro." He passed away a year after releasing the book. In the book Reinaldo Sanchez described a meeting in 1988 between Fidel Castro and his Minister of the Interior, General José Abrantes in which Castro asked the recording equipment be turned off:
The interview seemed to go on forever . . . one hour went by, then two. And so, as much out of curiosity as to kill the time, I put on the listening headphones and turned Key No. 1 to hear what was being said on the other side of the wall. Their conversation centered on a Cuban lanchero (someone who smuggles drugs by boat) living in the United States, apparently conducting business with the government. And what business! Very simply, a huge drug-trafficking transaction was being carried out at the highest echelons of the state. Abrantes asked for Fidel’s authorization to bring this trafficker temporarily to Cuba as he wanted to have a week’s vacation in his native land, accompanied by his parents, in Santa María del Mar — a beach situated about 12 miles east of Havana where the water is turquoise and the sand as fine as flour. For this trip, explained Abrantes, the lanchero would pay $75,000 — which, at a time of economic recession, wouldn’t go amiss . . . Fidel was all for it.
Cuba was placed on the list of state sponsors of terrorism on March 1, 1982, less than three months after the US State Department confirmed that the Cuban government was using a narcotics ring to funnel both arms and cash to the Colombian M19 terrorist group then battling to overthrow Colombia’s democratic government.

The Castro regime has a long established record of deceit and should not be underestimated. Drugs are flooding into the United States at unprecedented levels fueling overdoses and an epidemic
endangering American lives. 

Monday, November 12, 2018

Boatload of Cubans intercepted and sent back to Cuba

The exodus from Cuba continues. 

Cuban refugees continue to flee the Castro regime.

A small boat overloaded with Cuban migrants was stopped on November 10, 2018 by the Coast Guard Cutter Charles Sexton, and the cutter William Trump took 36 refugees back to Cabanas, Cuba.

In May of 2017, Admiral Paul F. Zukunft, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard claimed that due to a drastic measure taken by the Obama administration in negotiation with the Cuban government on January 12, 2018: the elimination of an immigration policy for Cubans known as “wet foot, dry foot” that Cubans were no longer fleeing to the United States.

The Admiral was wrong.

According to Elena Toledo writing in the PanAm Post 15,135 Cubans were declared “inadmissible” in the United States in 2017 and 14,037 Cubans were rejected from entering through Laredo, Texas alone. Cubans continue to be deported but they also continue to flee to the United States.

They weren't leaving because of the Cuban Adjustment Act but because of the communist dictatorship in Cuba.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Armistice 100: End of World War One

On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, the guns fell silent on November 11, 1918. The Imperial War Museum released a recording of the moment the World War 1 ended.

The First World War was claimed to be the "war to end all wars" but should have been called "the war to debase human life." 17.5 million were killed and 23 million wounded in World War One. The war to end all wars gave birth to the first communist dictatorship and in its aftermath to Nazism. Over the next 27 years new lows would be reached in the gulags, death camps, death marches, and nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and an even more disastrous Second World War.

It is important to remember and never forget those who fought and died in order not to repeat this tragic history.