These are the top 15 blog entries of the year arranged in chronological order. George Santayana understood the importance of remembering the past in order to avoid repeating the same mistakes.
On January 12, 2017 the Obama Administration shut the door on fleeing Cubans by gutting the Cuban Adjustment Act and ending a special parole program for Cuba doctors being exploited by the Castro regime in third countries. Six days later the Obama White House commuted the sentence of a terrorist backed by the Castro regime who had organized bombing campaigns in the United States that claimed American lives. In November of 2017 the Puerto Rican terrorist received the Order of Solidarity from the Castro regime and toured Cuba invited by the communist dictatorship.
On January 31, 2017 Amnesty International declared the national coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement, Eduardo Cardet, a prisoner of conscience.
In March of 2017 a report prepared by the outgoing Obama Administration white washed the Castro regime's drug trafficking record. Cuba's communist dictatorship has a long established record of deceit and should not be underestimated. Drugs in 2017 were flooding into the United States at unprecedented levels fueling overdoses and an epidemic endangering American lives. Sharing drug intelligence with the Castro regime, considering its history was madness. Whitewashing Cuba's drug trafficking record to do it was a disservice to the American people.
In early March spent several days visiting colleges in Louisiana with Rosa Maria Payá Acevedo and talking about the situation in Cuba and challenges faced by the human rights and pro-democracy movement there.
The issue of misrepresentation by travel agencies of the conditions for tourists in Cuba sparked lawsuits in March of 2017 and were reported in this blog. The Free Cuba Foundation would revisit this issue following Hurricane Irma in October 2017 and the failure of travel agencies to warn their clients of the imminent force five hurricane that would not only ruin their vacation but endanger their lives.
On March 29, 2017 marked 20 years since the extrajudicial killing of Danish student Joachim Løvschall by an AK-47 wielding soldier of the Castro regime on March 29, 1997.
On March 31, 2017 Amnesty International recognized a family of four human rights defenders jailed in November 2016 for refusing to mourn the death of Fidel Castro.
On May 7, 2017 analyzed the Castro regime's continuing involvement in Venezuela and the repression visited on the democratic opposition.
On October 9, 2017 marked the death of Che Guevara fifty years ago analyzing his murderous impact on urban guerilla warfare in the United States in the mid 1960s and in Latin America. On that same day on a Turkish television network debated the head British apologist for the Castro regime in the United Kingdom and wrote about it two days later in a blog entry.
Beginning in July of 2017 it was learned that the Institute of Cuban and Cuban American Studies was going to be shut down and the staff given notice for August of the same year. On October 19, 2017 this blog reported on how the UM administration apparently back tracked while at the same time pursuing engagement with the Castro regime.
On December 4, 2017 revisited Glenn Garvin's December 2016 essay titled "Red Ink: The high human cost of the Cuban Revolution" and addressed the question of how many extrajudicial executions have taken place in Cuba while raising new questions.
Reviewed Obama's Cuba policy legacy three years after the December 17, 2014 announcement looking at the worsening human rights situation, brain damaged U.S. diplomats, and Venezuela in a tailspin.
There is a new Administration that has changed the tone towards the Castro regime, but much of the Obama era bureaucracy remains in the State Department and as everyone knows personnel is policy.
Thursday, January 12, 2017
Response to President Obama's Statement on Cuban Immigration Policy
On December 17, 2014 when President Obama announced his new Cuba policy I wrote that Obama's legacy would be one of normalizing relations with an abnormal regime. Over the course of eight years the marginalization of dissidents would result in the extrajudicial deaths of high profile dissidents such as Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and escalating violence against Cubans unhappy with the dictatorship. The end result, not surprisingly, is another Cuban exodus. We'd seen this before with President Carter and President Clinton, but the Obama Administration has gone further ironically going along with discrimination against Cuban Americans until it became an embarrassment in the media this past year.
|They come not seeking the American dream but fleeing the Cuban nightmare|
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
President Obama's commuting Oscar López Rivera: Freeing another terrorist backed by the Castro regime
NY Daily News Photo By Harry Hamburg
FALN placed more than 130 bombs in American cities — including one in New York on Jan. 24, 1975. The explosive went off in busy Fraunces Tavern during lunch hour. Four people died, including Frank Connor, a 33-year-old father. “I faced Lopez six years ago at his parole hearing ... If he had expressed any atonement, any sympathy or empathy ... we’d have recommended he be released. But he didn’t,” said Joe Connor, who was a 9-year-old when his father was killed. López got 10 years tacked onto his sentence when he and a fellow FALN member were caught plotting a prison break that included killing their guards.
|Oscar Lopez Rivera, convicted FALN terrorist, taken to jail July 2, 1981 after Chicago trial. (AP)|
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Amnesty International issues urgent action for Cuban prisoner of conscience Eduardo Cardet
Saturday, March 4, 2017
President Obama's goodbye gift to General Raul Castro: Whitewashing Cuba's drug trafficking record
|Diosdado Cabello target of the DEA with General Raul Castro and his Foreign Minister|
"Cuba Despite its proximity to the largest exporters of illegal drugs in the hemisphere and the U.S. market, Cuba is not a major consumer, producer, or transit point of illicit narcotics. Cuba’s domestic production and consumption remain low due to active policing, strict sentencing, and nationwide prevention and public information programs."
No mention made in the report or in The Miami Herald of the Panamanian police seizing more than 400 kilograms of cocaine in a Cuban ship on its way to Belgium in April of 2016. [Full entry]
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Castro's Legacy and the Future of Cuba: What's past is prologue
|Murray Bessette of VOC, Rosa María Payá of Cuba Decide, John Suarez of CFC|
The Dividing Line
It is an honor that this event today is hosted by The Eric Voegelin Institute and if you'll indulge me I'd like to begin by citing Russell Kirk who wrote the following in which he cited the great political scientist from Louisiana State University in Ten Conservative Principles:
"The great line of demarcation in modern politics, Eric Voegelin used to point out, is not a division between liberals on one side and totalitarians on the other. No, on one side of that line are all those men and women who fancy that the temporal order is the only order, and that material needs are their only needs, and that they may do as they like with the human patrimony. On the other side of that line are all those people who recognize an enduring moral order in the universe, a constant human nature, and high duties toward the order spiritual and the order temporal."This division can be seen in Cuba between those who view human beings as a means to be used for material ends and those who in recognizing the intrinsic dignity of the person and the spiritual dimension to human existence understand that human beings are an end in and of themselves. Cuba endured three centuries of slavery under colonialism and has now been subjected to 58 years of communism and this is a tragic history, because on both counts a large number of Cubans were and are treated as something to be used and not as persons but the struggle for that to be changed continues. [Full entry]
Saturday, March 25, 2017
Travel agencies getting sued for misrepresenting conditions in Cuba to tourists
|Paradisus Rio de Oro in Holguin: what travel agencies show (left) what tourists see (right)|
Travellers told Global News they had little or no fresh water for their entire trip to the resort, making it impossible to flush toilets, take showers or wash their hands.The Canadian government has said that the ill served tourists, many of whom returned home very sick can sue the travel agency. It is not only Sunwing that needs to worry about a lawsuit but also the British based Thomas Cook travel agency. [ Full entry ]
Some, like Donna Carvalho of Georgetown, Ont., returned to Canada and went almost immediately to hospital with severe diarrhea, vomiting and an excruciating headache. Carvalho was placed in isolation for five hours and released after she said doctors concluded she had likely become ill from unsanitary conditions at the resort.
Carvalho said she witnessed the hotel restaurant using a “dirty rag” to clean dishes, cutlery and glassware in lieu of a dishwasher. Other travellers described similar nauseating experiences.
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
20 years without justice for Danish student gunned down in Havana by a soldier
|Joachim Løvschall: December 7, 1970 - March 29, 1997|
Joachim Løvschall was studying Spanish in Havana in the spring of 1997. He was gunned down by a soldier of the Castro regime in Havana, Cuba twenty years ago today on March 29, 1997. The identity of the soldier has never been revealed to Joachim''s family. No one has been brought to justice. Joachim's family is not satisfied with the official explanation.
The last time they saw Joachim
On March 28, 1997 Joachim Løvschall ate his last dinner with white wine in a little restaurant called Aladin, located on 21st street in Havana. He went to the Revolutionary Plaza and bought a ticket to the Cuban National Theater. Following the performance he went to the theater's bar, Cafe Cantate, and met up with two Swedish friends. They each drank a couple of beers, but soon left because Joachim did not like the music. At 23:30, they said good bye to each other on the sidewalk in front of Cafe Cantate.
Joachim was never seen alive again. [ Full entry ]
Friday, March 31, 2017
Family jailed for not mourning Castro's death declared prisoners of conscience by Amnesty
|Anairis,Adairis Miranda Leyva, Maydolis Leyva Portelles, Fidel Manuel Batista Leyva|
PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE ON HUNGER STRIKE
Two days after Fidel Castro’s death, a family of four human rights defenders were arrested in Holguín, south-east Cuba. They received a one-year sentence, and the three siblings are currently on hunger strike. They are prisoners of conscience and must be released immediately and unconditionally.
Twin sisters Anairis and Adairis Miranda Leyva, their brother, Fidel Manuel Batista Leyva, and their mother, Maydolis Leyva Portelles, all human rights defenders, were arrested on 27 November 2016, two days after the death of Fidel Castro for allegedly leaving their house during the period of state mourning. The initial arrests took place in Holguín and coincided with an “act of repudiation” (acto de repudio), a government-led demonstration that is common in Cuba, carried out at the family’s home. The family are government critics, known for their activism and associated with a number of political and human rights movements including Movimiento Cubano de Reflexión (Cuban Reflection Movement). According to Maydolis Leyva Portelles, currently under house arrest, there were many non-uniformed state security officials, including political police and military officials, present during the arrest. [Full entry]
Sunday, May 7, 2017
Cuba's role in the crisis in Venezuela and how it can also hurt Americans
|Venezuelan women march on May 6, 2017 against repression in Cuba|
Thousands of Venezuelan women, dressed in white, marched through the streets of Venezuela on Saturday denouncing repression by security forces. Some of the women flashed their breasts waving posters that read: "We have no firearms, just breasts." Young Venezuelans continue to be shot in the head by paramilitary groups working together with the police and national guard. Opposition leader Maria Corina Machado pleaded: "We beg the armed forces: don't open fire on unarmed people."
Young Venezuelans peacefully demonstrating the Maduro regime continue to be shot in the head and killed some victims from over the past month are: Hecder Lugo (age 20), Miguel Medina (age 20), Jairo Otriz (age 19) Carlos Moreno (age 17) and although not shot in the head, but in the throat, was 18 year old violinist, Armando Cañizales. This last death led the Venezuelan director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel, to say "It is time to listen to the people: Enough is enough.” There is a long list of Venezuelan youth murdered by the Maduro regime. [ Full entry]
Thursday, October 5, 2017
#LetWomenSing: Castros wouldn't let Celia Cruz sing in Cuba but the Queen of Salsa sang to the world
|Let Celia Cruz's music be heard in Cuba|
Celia Cruz was and remains a nonperson in Cuba. Celia Cobo of Billboard Magazine once said "Cruz is indisputably the best known and most influential female figure in the history of Cuban music." The impact of the Castro regime on music in Cuba goes beyond jailing musicians and includes systematic censorship that threatens the island's musical legacy as has been the case with the Queen of Salsa.
According to the 2004 book Shoot the singer!: music censorship today edited by Marie Korpe there is increasing concern that post-revolution generations in Cuba are growing up without knowing or hearing censored musicians such as Celia Cruz and Olga Guillot and that this could lead to a loss of Cuban identity in future generations. This process has been described as a Cuban cultural genocide that is depriving generations of Cubans of their heritage. [ Full entry]
Monday, October 9, 2017
Che Guevara, communist networks, and a terrible legacy in America
|Che Guevara executed for trying to overthrow government of Bolivia on this day in 1967|
"He was a man full of hatred … Che Guevara executed dozens and dozens of people who never once stood trial and were never declared guilty … In his own words, he said the following: 'At the smallest of doubt we must execute.' And that's what he did at the Sierra Maestra and the prison of Las Cabañas."If one doubts the above observation by Valladares characterizing Guevara as a hateful mass murderer then one need only look to the Argentine guerrilla's own words embracing violence, armed struggle and "annihilating" capitalists in letters to his Aunt and parents. He was a communist who in 1953 in a letter written from Guatemala to his Aunt Beatriz reported on an oath he made, "I have sworn before a picture of the old and mourned comrade Stalin that I won't rest until I see these capitalist octopuses annihilated." In 1965, two years prior to his death in Bolivia, he wrote his last letter to his parents explaining that his "Marxism has taken root and become purified. I believe in armed struggle as the only solution for those peoples who fight to free themselves, and I am consistent with my beliefs." [Full entry]
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Debating the director of the Castro Dictatorship Support Campaign
|Debating a supporter of the Castro regime on TRT World on October 9, 2017|
On October 9, 2017 on the TRT World program "The News Makers" I participated in a contentious conversation on US-Cuba relations that ended up turning into a debate that hopefully generated more light than heat on the important subject of the diplomatic crisis taking place between the United States and Cuba.
My adversary on this program was Robert Miller, director of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign (CSC). The organization's name is a misnomer in reality it should be called the Castro Dictatorship Support Campaign. Douglas Dowell, a self described "liberal-minded social democrat" describes CSC as "apologists for a repressive dictatorship." CSC claims that Cuba is a democracy are even more troubling when one takes into account that Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition since 2015 in the United Kingdom, is a long time supporter. [ Full entry]
Thursday, October 19, 2017
Following controversy UM postpones event but the drive for engagement with the Castro regime continues.
The University of Miami has been under a cloud of controversy following the announcement that the Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies (ICCAS) would be closed, then back tracked that it would remain open, with a new director. Furthermore that the founding director Professor Jaime Suchlicki had not retired but resigned in protest over the direction Cuba Studies was taking under the new UM President Julio Frenk.
As the weeks went by the claims made by Professor Suchlicki's about the University of Miami going in a different direction that requires placating the dictatorship in Cuba became more evident. The University of Miami has now produced a special report titled "Cuba and the Caribbean" that has a clear editorial line, including a slanted poll that makes little or no mention of human rights or dissidents. [ Full entry]
Monday, December 4, 2017
Red Killings in Cuba: The cost in Cuban lives
The body count
Glenn Garvin wrote an important essay one year ago on December 1, 2016 titled "Red Ink: The high human cost of the Cuban Revolution" and in it addresses the question of how many extrajudicial executions have taken place in Cuba. This blog addressed this issue before in 2012, but Garvin adds some new and critical insights to understanding the real nature of the Castro regime.
"University of Hawaii historian R. J. Rummel, who made a career out of studying what he termed “democide,” the killing of people by their own government, reported in 1987 that credible estimates of the Castro regime’s death toll ran from 35,000 to 141,000, with a median of 73,000." [ Full entry]
Thursday, December 14, 2017
Obama's Cuba policy legacy three years later: brain damaged diplomats, microwaves and the sounds of crickets
|President Barack Obama with General Raul Castro in 2016|
The argument at the time was that this opening would lead to normalized and improved relations between Cuba and the United States.
On May 29, 2015, despite a long history of sponsoring terrorism, the Obama State Department removed Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. In November of 2017 former Cuban diplomat, Jose Antonio "Tony" Lopez was linked to terrorists responsible for the June 17, 2017 bombing in Bogota, Colombia that killed three and injured nine according to prosecutors in the South American country. A mother of one of the accused denied her son's involvement in the attack but confirms the link with the former Cuban diplomat. [ Full entry ]