Saturday, September 30, 2017

More relevant to the debate over Cuba today: Castro lies

The actions taken by the State Department today are a prudent first step, until one learns exactly what has been going on in Cuba, with regards to scores of American diplomats and their dependents being harmed in a manner that has not been adequately explained by Cuban officials, nor guarantees made for their future safety.  This should have been done months ago. On September 23rd in a Letter to the Editor I laid out the case for why the Castro regime should not be trusted.

U.S. Embassy in Cuba

 Published in The Miami Herald on September 23, 2017 

Cuba lies

The Miami Herald’s Sept. 19 editorial, “Unless Cuba comes clean about the embassy attacks on U.S. diplomats, it will put renewed ties at risk” offers an overview of the strange case of American diplomats and their dependents harmed in Cuba.

But three points should be considered.

First, Raúl Castro lies, and there are two recent examples. Castro on March 21, 2016 in the joint press conference with President Obama said that there were no political prisoners in Cuba, and if any were identified they would be released immediately. A list of current Cuban political prisoners was provided, but they were not freed. In July 2013, Cuban officials were caught trying to smuggle warplanes, missiles, and technology related to ballistic missile programs hidden under 220,000 bags of sugar to North Korea and lied about it. This was in violation of U.N. sanctions.

Second, Obama did not achieve an end to the Cold War with Cuba. On Jan. 2, 2017 Cuban troops marched in a parade over which Castro presided chanting that they would repeatedly shoot the first African-American president in the head so many times that they would make a “hat of lead to the head.” Considering that American diplomats in Havana were already suffering brain trauma since November 2016 perhaps this should be looked at in a new light.

Third, the statement by the Cuban embassy in Washington on Sept. 19 that “Cuba strictly observes its obligations to protect foreign diplomats on its soil” is not true. There is a decades-old pattern of hostility.

In 2006, the Miami Herald reported how a high-ranking member of the U.S. mission found his mouthwash replaced with urine. In another case, after one diplomat’s family privately discussed their daughter’s susceptibility to mosquito bites, “They returned home to find all of their windows open and the house full of mosquitoes.” American diplomats, like their Canadian counterparts, have also had pets poisoned while stationed in Cuba.

The types of injuries suffered by diplomats since November 2016 are new, but Cuba’s outlaw behavior toward them is not.

John Suarez, coordinator, Free Cuba Foundation, Miami

Read more here:

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Friday, September 29, 2017

The New York Times reports that Cuban doctors are tired of being slaves

Cuban doctors, like most Cubans, are tired of being enslaved.

Cuban doctors trafficked and exploited by the Castro regime
 Just yesterday I was justifiably calling The New York Times to task for a terrible piece on Communist China's record on women and in passing highlighted the paper's shameful past of covering up Josef Stalin's genocide in Ukraine and assisting Fidel Castro's rise to power in Cuba. Today Ernesto Londoño, the modern descendant of Herbert Matthews, managed to somewhat surprise me with an article titled "Cuban Doctors Revolt: ‘You Get Tired of Being a Slave’" with an introductory paragraph that indicted the Castro regime and reflected internal dissent:
"In a rare act of collective defiance, scores of Cuban doctors working overseas to make money for their families and their country are suing to break ranks with the Cuban government, demanding to be released from what one judge called a “form of slave labor.” Thousands of Cuban doctors work abroad under contracts with the Cuban authorities. Countries like Brazil pay the island’s Communist government millions of dollars every month to provide the medical services, effectively making the doctors Cuba’s most valuable export."
This is news because it is being reported in The New York Times, that for decades has sought to spin a pro-regime narrative in its pages. In 2008 The Miami Herald reported that "more than 31,000 Cuban health workers -- most of them doctors -- who toil in 71 countries brought in $2.3 billion last year, ..., more than any other industry, including tourism. Most of them are paid $150 to $375 a month, a small percentage of the cash or trade benefits the Cuban government pockets in exchange for their work." 

Juan Alfonso, a Cuban doctor, living and practicing medicine in Chile, was interviewed by the PanamPost on October 15, 2015 and explained why he had to flee his homeland, "I will tell you something: I would have liked to stay in Cuba. I left because I could barely afford to buy a single egg to eat a day." The New York Times Editorial Board in 2014 was trying to spin that Cuban doctors were fleeing to the United States because of the Cuban Adjustment Act and a special immigration program that sought to exacerbate a brain drain in Cuba.

Londoño repeats the argument in this article to soften the cruel reality that "President Barack Obama in January [2017] ended the program, which had allowed Cuban doctors stationed in other countries to get permanent residency visas for the United States."

Londoño's article focuses on Cuban doctors in Brazil, appealing to the courts for the right to stay there, and Brazilian judges who view their treatment as modern day slavery. These professionals are spread around the world, but there have also been other cases of Cuban workers in brutal conditions not mentioned in Mr. Londoño's article.

In 2006 the case of Cuban workers forced to work 112 hours a week for 3 cents an hour in Curaçao made the news. The workers had been unpaid; their compensation was deducted from Cuba’s debt to the Curaçao Drydock Company. Three workers sued the company accusing  "Curaçao Drydock Company of subjecting them to forced labour in a lawsuit in US federal court under the Alien Tort Claims Act and other laws.  They alleged that the company conspired with the Cuban Government to traffic them and other workers to Curaçao to work for Curaçao Drydock Company as part of a forced labour programme."

Unfortunately in the drive to normalize relations with the Castro regime the previous Administration also watered down its report on human trafficking in Cuba, giving the Cuban dictatorship a pass. This drive was aided and abetted by The New York Times and Mr Londoño the fruits of which we are seeing now with over 20 diplomats badly injured in mysterious attacks and the U.S. Embassy in Havana effectively shutttered.

The New York Times article on the Cuban medical doctors revolt gives me some hope that the paper may finally be changing its ways, but the past 85 years also tells me to remain skeptical.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

What The New York Times missed on Chinese women and the Communist revolution

Question: How many Chinese girls never got to dream beyond the dying rooms thanks to China's one child policy? Answer: Millions.  (Responding to New York Times opinion piece over twitter)

During Mao's Cultural Revolution thousands of young women were raped in camps
On September 25, 2017 at 8:11pm NYT Opinion tweeted: "For all its flaws, the Communist revolution taught Chinese women to dream big" and sparked an online conversation with many outraged at what they rightfully described as a white wash of a mass murdering dictatorship.
Furthermore if one considers that up to 45 million Chinese were killed under Mao Ze Dong and his Communist revolution. 22 and a half million were women but that blood bath didn't specifically target only the female sex and although historically the Chinese tyrant out did both Stalin and Hitler combined for greatest mass murderer in human history the pages  of The New York Times found space to opine on the "achievements" of communism in China. Mao took power on October 1, 1949 and ruled with an iron fist until his death on September 9, 1976 and left a record of carnage difficult to equal over 27 years.

Ten years prior to his death the old dictator launched the Cultural Revolution that began a decade of bloodshed that would claim millions of lives.  First generation dictator Mao Zedong was 72 years old at the time and the communist regime had been in power 17 years and on May 16, 1966 the communist party May 16 Notification warned that the party had been infiltrated by counter-revolutionary “revisionists” who were plotting to create a “dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.” China expert Frank Dikotter explained how in "1968, millions were sent to the countryside after they finished school, some of whom were girls as young as 14. Thousands of young girls were left at the mercy of villagers and raped.” Xinran  in her 2002 The Good Women of China described how young girls suffered the worse of the sexual horrors in the Cultural Revolution: "The perpetrators were their teachers, their friends, even their fathers and brothers, who lost control of their animal instincts." 
Mao died in 1976 and the decade long blood letting came to an end.

But the communist regime continued on, after the founder's departure, and three years later began it's infamous one-child policy. On September 26, 1980 The New York Times ran a UPI story reporting that "Chinese Reds Limited To a Child Per Family"  and euphemistically wrote  "China intensified its population-control drive today by ordering the 38 million Communist Party members to have only one child per family" and how the policy would use "painstaking patience and persuasion." Decade later Time Magazine reported in 2015 that "patience and persuasion" included "forced abortions and sterilization, and a gender imbalance resulting from female infanticide." 
 Tom Hilditch in the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), repr. in World Press Review, in September of 1995 described it as a "A Holocaust of Little Girls" and reported on the plight of a Chinese baby girl in an orphanage:
Mei-ming has lain this way for 10 days now: tied up in urine-soaked blankets, scabs of dried mucus growing across her eyes, her face shrinking to a skull, malnutrition slowly shrivelling her two-year old body. The orphanage staff call her room the "dying room", and they have abandoned here for the very same reasons her parents abandoned her shortly after she was born. She is a girl. When Mei-ming dies four days later, it will be of sheer neglect. Afterward, the orphanage will deny she ever existed. She will be just another invisible victim of the collision between China's one-child policy and its traditional preference for male heirs. She is one of perhaps 15 million female babies who have disappeared from China's demographics since the one-child-per-family policy was introduced in 1979.
Kathryn Joyce in her article in The New Republic on June 1, 2016 described how things operated in China in 2003 and contradicted Hilditch's claim that parents abandoned their daughters, but that many were forcibly taken: "It was a time of harsh family planning enforcement in their area, when married women were required to have four annual pregnancy tests to ensure they didn’t become pregnant outside of family planning guidelines. If they did, local policy mandated abortion and sterilization. Local family planning officials operated under the threat of docked salaries for over-quota births and offered rewards to anonymous tipsters who informed on their neighbors."

A free press is a benchmark of a free society that needs to be celebrated and defended from both  external and internal threats. Since it is a free institution, it must be self-policing and only answer to its customers on the basis of the quality of the journalism.  The shameful track record of The New York Times white washing the crimes of communism needs to exposed not only in China but the Soviet Union and in Cuba too.

Walter Duranty won the Pulitzer covering up Stalin's 1930s manufactured famine in Ukraine that claimed eight to 10 million lives in the Soviet Union. With his reports denying the reality all around him this New York Times journalist was complicit in genocide. Twenty years later in Cuba Herbert Matthews engaged in a fallacious propaganda campaign disguised as news reporting to turn Fidel Castro into a national figure presenting him as an anti-communist and a democrat. The total number of dead  is still being added to 58 years later for the lies he reported in the 1950s. William F. Buckley Jr. in an article in the March 1961 issue of The American Legion magazine outlined the impact of Mr. Matthews on the imposition of communism in Cuba and placed it in a larger context:
"The leader of pro-Castro opinion in the United States is Herbert L. Matthews , a member of the editorial staff of the New York Times. He did more than any other single man to bring Fidel Castro to power.
Recalling the wise words of Russian author and dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: “The simple step of a courageous individual is not to take part in the lie. "One word of truth outweighs the world,” the rest of this blog entry will lay out the facts about the dying rooms and birth control in China under the one child policy that continued until 2015.

Amnesty International has monitored how it operates in practice and in 1996 published the report China: No one is safe and presented details and specific cases:

Birth control policy in China

The official line
Family planning is “voluntary”, although birth control has been compulsory since 1979. Government demographers recommend stabilization of the population at 1.3 billion by the year 2000, which they say can only be achieved through “strict measures”. “Coercion is not permitted”, according to the State Family Planning Commission.

Some facts
-Women pregnant outside the plan have been abducted and forced to have abortions or undergo sterilization.
-Pregnant women have been detained and threatened until they agree to have abortions.
-People who refuse to comply with the policy have been harassed and some have been ill-treated by officials.
-“Above-quota” new-born babies have reportedly been killed by doctors under pressure from officials.
-The homes of couples who refuse to obey the child quotas have been demolished.
-Relatives of those who cannot pay fines imposed for having had too many children have been held hostage until the money was paid.
-Those helping families to have “above quota” children have been severely punished.
-Those committing human rights violations while enforcing the birth control policy often go unpunished.

A victim
An unmarried woman in Hebei province who had adopted one of her brother’s children was detained several times in an attempt to force her brother to pay fines for having had too many children. In November 1994 she was held for seven days with a dozen other men and women. She was reportedly blindfolded, stripped naked, tied and beaten with an electric baton.
Quote: ‘It was part of my work to force have abortions. In the evening, when the couple was likely to be at home, we would go to their houses and drag the woman out. If the woman was not at home, we would take her husband or another member along and keep them in custody until the woman turned herself in.’ - A former family planning official, 1993

In April of 2010, Roseann Rife, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director said:"Forced sterilizations carried out by officials amount to torture and the haste of the procedures raises questions about their safety and possible health impacts."
The Communist revolution in China for many women was a nightmare and for many more non-existence. The New York Times reproduced a lie on its opinion pages. Sadly it was not the first time and I fear it won't be the last.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Get help to Cubans impacted by Irma without filling the coffers of the Castro dictatorship

Hurricane Irma relief effort in Cuba: How to really help

Hurricane Irma flooded Havana neighborhoods although worse impact was elsewhere.
Cubans are in desperate need of help
Despite the official propaganda channels trying to portray a speedy government response in Cuba, independent press say different. Luz Escobar reported on September 23rd "Hurricane Victims Along Havana’s Coastline Wait for Help That Never Comes." In years past support sent through official channels ended up on sale in government stores. Independent channels are the best way to get help to Cubans devastated by Hurricane Irma. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called for a special collection for Hurricane Irma victims for the week of Sept. 23-24. The effort is to cover all the areas impacted by Irma although one can directly select which impacted countries to send aide to victims.

Read more here:

Gathering belongings following Hurricane Irma
 Beware using official regime channels
On September 18, 2017 Babalu Blog reported that "Mariela Castro Espin, the jet-setting daughter of Cuban dictator Raul Castro, posted a request for hurricane relief donations on Facebook and included a bank account number to where donations could be sent. A little research turned up that the bank account is from the Cuban regime’s International Finance Bank and it belongs to a Cuban company named GAESA." On September 15, 2016 in testimony before the House Agricultural Committee Mauricio Claver-Carone gave the following description of GAESA:
Today, the Cuban military owns and operates one of the largest conglomerates in Latin America, known as the Grupo de Administración Empresarial, S.A., or GAESA. Its portfolio includes companies that dominate ports, trade zones, tourist attractions, restaurants, hotels, real estate, retail stores, currency exchanges, gas stations, airlines, and other transportation services. Its head, Gen. Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez-Callejas, is Raul's son-in-law.
Sending donations through the account promoted by Ms Castro Espin will end up in the dictatorship's coffers, and will most likely not get to the average Cuban. There is an alternative with a proven track record.

Good way to get aide to Cubans
However if you want to get aide directly to the Cuban people there are other options and one of the best is through Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami and  its Disaster Relief Hurricane Irma effort.

Archdiocese of Miami: To donate to Catholic Charities, visit and

Destruction in Cojimar, Cuba

Read more here:

Friday, September 22, 2017

Economist and Founding member of the Center for Coexistence sentenced to three years deprivation of liberty

Cuba does not have an independent judiciary and political trials are often covered up with bogus charges to avoid international scrutiny. This appears to be the case with Karina Gálvez Chiu, a founding member of a prestigious civil society group the Center for Coexistence Studies (CEC) and it is the second time that a space where the groups is meeting has been confiscated by the regime.

14ymedio, Havana, 21 September 2017 — Economist Karina Gálvez Chiu was sentenced Thursday by the Municipal Court of the city of Pinar del Rio to three years of deprivation of liberty and the confiscation of her home for the crime of tax evasion, a member of the Center for Coexistence Studies (CEC) confirmed 14ymedio. A court decision that she ensures did not surprise her and that she expected.

“Although after the trial, which was clearly won by the defense lawyers, we had hoped that the penalty would decrease somewhat with respect to the prosecutor’s request,” explained the economist.

Finally, “the court accepted the requests for sanctions proposed by the prosecution,” the CEC said in a statement. This does not mean, however, that the economist must go to prison, since the sentence contemplates that the sentence of deprivation of freedom can be substituted by three years of house arrest.

The trial against Gálvez began on January 11 when she was detained for a week at the province’s Technical Department of Criminal Investigation and her house was sealed.

Karina Gálvez’s house was also the headquarters of the Center for Coexistence studies (CEC) and with its seizure the independent project lost its meeting place for the second time. In 2009, the yard of the home of Galvez’s parents, where their members met, was also confiscated and closed.

The property is now at the disposition of the Municipal Housing Department, subordinate to the Council of the Administration of the Municipality of Pinar del Río.

The court ruling says that the conviction seeks to “make the defendant understand” the seriousness of the crime and also “serve to educate the people in general.”

In addition, Gálvez has been banned from exercising the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in electoral processes, as well as losing “the right to hold management positions in the organs corresponding to the political-administrative activity of the State.”

She is also prohibited “from being issued a passport and leaving from the national territory until the penalties imposed have been completed,” says the document that the court sent to her on Thursday through her defense lawyer.

The sentence states that this type of punishment is applied individually and in “its type and extent” is for the purpose of “repressing, re-educating and preventing the commission of new offenses.”

As of this Thursday Gálvez has ten days to appeal. After that time the sentence will be signed against her and she must wait for the appointment with an implementation judge.

“I still have not decided if I’m going to appeal, I’m thinking about it,” says the economist. “The person who presided over my trial is the president of the Provincial Court, so I would have to appeal to a judge who is subordinate to him,” and that “would be a formality.”

Gálvez has denounced, in recent months, an escalation of pressure by the authorities, which includes numerous interrogations in the provincial Immigration and Aliens Department, where they inquired about the motivations of her trips off the island.

Other members of the CEC have been summoned by the police and have received warnings, including the director of the publication, Dagoberto Valdés, who was told by an official last October that from that moment on his life will be “very difficult.”

The CEC organizes training courses for citizens and civil society and, in a recent public statement, its members assured that they will not leave Cuba or the Church and that they will continue to “work for the country.”

CEC sent out several tweets about Karina Gálvez's plight and the following contained a copy of the legal decision and said that  Karina Galvez, from the Center for Coexistence Studies sentenced to three years prison and the confiscation of her home, that had been the headquarters of CEC.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Did State Department downplaying attacks on diplomats in Cuba endanger others?

The plot thickens... U.S. and Canadian diplomats harmed. French now testing their diplomats in Havana to see if they have also suffered injuries.

Diplomat woke up in a Havana hotel to a grinding, blaring cacophony. Moved a few feet noise stopped
 The Daily Mail headline today declared "Damning evidence Cuba's launched a sci-fi sonic weapon at America: How 21 US diplomats were hit by hearing and memory loss - and even mild brain damage - after suspicious attack." More disturbing is the allegation raised by CBS News that the U.S. State Department hid what was going on from Congress and the American people. In the fall of 2016 U.S. diplomats began to complain of "mild" traumatic brain injury and permanent hearing and/or memory loss. In May of 2017 two Cuban diplomats were expelled from the United States over the matter, but it was not made known until August 9, 2017.

Now CBS says that the State Department "only admitted the attacks were occurring after CBS News Radio first reported them August 9." According to the news agency an "internal Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs document obtained by CBS News shows the State Department was fully aware of the extent of the attacks on its diplomats in Havana, Cuba, long before it was forced to acknowledge them." Now the number of American diplomats and dependents injured stands at 21. Five Canadian diplomats and their families were also harmed. Now France has tested its own diplomatic staff in Havana for potential sonic injuries.

Worse yet "experts" such as Fulton Armstrong with a track record of "minimizing Cuba’s ability to threaten U.S. interests and its continued support to terrorists" are engaged in downplaying this latest outrage. What goes unmentioned is that under international law as described below by the International Court of Justice put it in the case of US Diplomatic and Consular Staff in Tehran (paras 38-40):
[t]here is no more fundamental prerequisite for the conduct of relations between States than the inviolability of diplomatic envoys and embassies . . . [T]he institution of diplomacy, with its concomitant privileges and immunities, has withstood the test of centuries and proved to be an instrument essential for effective co-operation in the international community, and for enabling States, irrespective of their differing constitutional and social systems, to achieve mutual understanding and to resolve their differences by peaceful means . . . [and] the inviolability of consular premises and archives, are similarly principles deep-rooted in international law…
The Castro regime has failed to maintain the "inviolability of diplomatic envoys and embassies" in this matter but also has a decades long history of engaging in the wholesale violation of this international norm.  Former Canadian ambassador to Cuba James Bartleman described events that occurred midway during his  (1981 – 1983) posting: “[h]is family dog was poisoned, a trade officer had a dead rat nailed to their door and the embassy started receiving threatening phone calls.”  U.S. diplomat Robin Meyers was subjected to cars being used against her as weapons in Cuba in February of 1996. In 2006 The Miami Herald reported how a high-ranking member of the U.S. mission found his mouthwash replaced with urine. In another case, after one diplomat’s family privately discussed their daughter’s susceptibility to mosquito bites, “they returned home to find all of their windows open and the house full of mosquitoes.”  American diplomats, like their Canadian counterparts, have also had pets poisoned while stationed in Cuba. 

This is an outlaw regime with a track record that should not be ignored, especially when doing so is leading to diplomats and their families being seriously physically harmed.   The logical question that arises is a disturbing one: Did State Department lack of response and downplaying of attacks on US diplomats and their families in Cuba lead to more being harmed?

The State Department knew since November 2016 that American diplomats were being harmed in these attacks, but didn't make it public until August 9, 2017 when CBS News broke the story. On December 7, 2016 the United States and Cuba held their fifth Bilateral Commission meeting where they celebrated progress on U.S.-Cuba relations, and according to the Miami Herald signed "11 non-binding agreements on health, the environment, counter-narcotics, and other areas of cooperation." No word on attacks against diplomats. They would continue until August 2017. Cuban officials say they don't know whats going on. This matter should have been raised earlier.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Remarks by President Trump on Cuba and Venezuela today at the UN General Assembly

"From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure." - Donald Trump at the UNGA

President Donald Trump addresses the UN General Assembly
The Office of the Press Secretary at the White House released President Donald Trump's full speech to the United Nations General Assembly this morning. Below is the excerpt that relates to Cuba and Venezuela. There is no mention either of the ongoing crisis involving U.S. diplomats physically harmed in Cuba that could lead to shuttering the U.S. Embassy in Havana or the thousands of Cuban soldiers in Venezuela that have been described as an occupying force by OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro. Nevertheless it is a remarkable statement that exposes the terrible record of communism generally and specifically analyses what is taking place in the two Latin American countries.
In some cases, states that seek to subvert this institution's noble aims have hijacked the very systems that are supposed to advance them.  For example, it is a massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations that some governments with egregious human rights records sit on the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The United States is one out of 193 countries in the United Nations, and yet we pay 22 percent of the entire budget and more.  In fact, we pay far more than anybody realizes.  The United States bears an unfair cost burden, but, to be fair, if it could actually accomplish all of its stated goals, especially the goal of peace, this investment would easily be well worth it.

Major portions of the world are in conflict and some, in fact, are going to hell.  But the powerful people in this room, under the guidance and auspices of the United Nations, can solve many of these vicious and complex problems.

The American people hope that one day soon the United Nations can be a much more accountable and effective advocate for human dignity and freedom around the world.  In the meantime, we believe that no nation should have to bear a disproportionate share of the burden, militarily or financially.  Nations of the world must take a greater role in promoting secure and prosperous societies in their own regions.

That is why in the Western Hemisphere, the United States has stood against the corrupt and destabilizing regime in Cuba and embraced the enduring dream of the Cuban people to live in freedom.  My administration recently announced that we will not lift sanctions on the Cuban government until it makes fundamental reforms.

We have also imposed tough, calibrated sanctions on the socialist Maduro regime in Venezuela, which has brought a once thriving nation to the brink of total collapse.

The socialist dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro has inflicted terrible pain and suffering on the good people of that country.  This corrupt regime destroyed a prosperous nation by imposing a failed ideology that has produced poverty and misery everywhere it has been tried.  To make matters worse, Maduro has defied his own people, stealing power from their elected representatives to preserve his disastrous rule.
The Venezuelan people are starving and their country is collapsing.  Their democratic institutions are being destroyed.  This situation is completely unacceptable and we cannot stand by and watch.

As a responsible neighbor and friend, we and all others have a goal.  That goal is to help them regain their freedom, recover their country, and restore their democracy.  I would like to thank leaders in this room for condemning the regime and providing vital support to the Venezuelan people.

The United States has taken important steps to hold the regime accountable.  We are prepared to take further action if the government of Venezuela persists on its path to impose authoritarian rule on the Venezuelan people.
We are fortunate to have incredibly strong and healthy trade relationships with many of the Latin American countries gathered here today.  Our economic bond forms a critical foundation for advancing peace and prosperity for all of our people and all of our neighbors.

I ask every country represented here today to be prepared to do more to address this very real crisis.  We call for the full restoration of democracy and political freedoms in Venezuela. (Applause.)

The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.  (Applause.)  From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure.

Those who preach the tenets of these discredited ideologies only contribute to the continued suffering of the people who live under these cruel systems.

America stands with every person living under a brutal regime.  Our respect for sovereignty is also a call for action.  All people deserve a government that cares for their safety, their interests, and their well being, including their prosperity.

Monday, September 18, 2017

UM shutdown ICCAS and Dr. Suchlicki opens the Cuban Studies Institute

UM's Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies shutdown while Suchlicki's Cuban Studies Institute opens.

Back on July 10, 2017 this blog first raised the call that the Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies (ICCAS) was under threat. The University of Miami claimed otherwise that only Dr. Suchlicki was going to retire and ICCAS would continue, but facts demonstrated otherwise. All staff at ICCAS were let go and by August 15, 2017 Casa Bacardi where ICCAS was located had been shut down. Dr. Suchlicki resigned from the University of Miami and has now announced that he, many of the former staff and other distinguished scholars are forming the Cuban Studies Institute which basically continues the mission that had been pursued before at ICCAS. Today received the following e-mail reproduced below and look forward to reading CSI's research and attending their events. 

Dear Friend:

Thank you for your support of ICCAS for the past two decades and for your continuing support now during a difficult time.

We have organized a new research, non-profit center, the Cuban Studies Institute (Instituto de Estudios Cubanos), and will continue the work of disseminating the reality about Cuba and its foreign policy.

Following is the Cuban Studies Institute staff:

Director: Jaime Suchlick, Ph.D. International Relations
Executive Director: Pedro Roig, J.D., Legal Issues
Program Coordinator/Office Manager: Maria Urizar
Research Coordinator: Jennifer Hernandez

The following colleagues are also joining us as Senior Research Associates of the new institute:

Alvaro Alba, Journalist
Jose Azel, Ph.D., International Business
Robert Cruz, Ph.D., Economist
Ignacio Uria, Ph.D., International Relations
Mario Gonzalez Corzo, Ph.D., Economist
Carlos Alberto Montaner, Author, Columnist
Sherri Porcelain, Ph.D., Public Health
Marco Antonio Ramos, Ph.D., History
Ambassador Otto Reich, American Foreign Policy

Research and Administrative Offices:
1500 South Dixie Highway (corner of Madruga)
Bank of America Building, 2nd floor
Coral Gables, FL 33146

Activities and Programs:
American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora
1200 Coral Way
Miami, FL 33145

We look forward to seeing you in our new offices and in our programs and activities.

Un fuerte abrazo,

Jaime Suchlicki

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Constitution Day 2017: 230 years after signing and ratification of the U.S. Constitution

In the eyes of government, we are just one race here. It is American. - Antonin Scalia, Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Mineta, 534 U.S. 103 (1995).

Constitutional Convention completed ratification on September 17, 1787
 230 years ago 35 of the founders of the United States signed and ratified the Constitution of the United States. First recognized by Iowa schools in 1911, Sons of the American Revolution in 1917, and finally by  September 17th is set aside as Constitution Day in observance of this important day that established the U.S. Constitution. 
"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

Today some will revere the Constitution as a sacred text but how did one of the actual signers view it at the time? Benjamin Franklin, during a speech in the Constitutional Convention, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (September 17, 1787); reported in James Madison, Journal of the Federal Convention, ed. E. H. Scott (1893), p. 742:
In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution, with all its faults, — if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of government but what may be a blessing to the people, if well administered; and I believe, farther, that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other. 
 The author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, observed in a fair copy of the drafts of the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798:
"In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."
Today is a good day to re-read the Constitution and remind ourselves as citizens that we must hold the politicians accountable in order to preserve liberty and avoid despotism. Furthermore that over time amendments have been necessary to cautiously improve on the original document.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Remembering and honoring Winston Churchill, the greatest Briton, who was anti-Nazi, anti-Communist and pro-freedom

"Fascism was the shadow or ugly child of communism… As Fascism sprang from Communism, so Nazism developed from Fascism. Thus were set on foot those kindred movements which were destined soon to plunge the world into more hideous strife, which none can say has ended with their destruction." - Winston Churchill, The Second World War, Volume 1, The Gathering Storm (1948)

Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the greatest Briton
Today the United Nations is observing World Democracy Day and the United Kingdom is observing Battle of Britain Day.  This double observance heightens the importance of remembering the wisdom of Winston Churchill and honor the man who twice saved democracy from Nazi and Soviet totalitarianism.  Today in 1940, the Battle of Britain's most decisive clash saw the Royal Air Force repel the largest Luftwaffe air strike against the United Kingdom. Months earlier on June 18, 1940 in a speech in The House of Commons titled "Their Finest Hour" Prime Minister Churchill explained the stakes of World War II and the start of the existential clash for Great Britain: 
I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour.”
The apologists for international communism  like to extol their so-called "antifascist"credentials while remaining silent or finding bizarre revisionist explanations on the connections between fascism and communism that Mr. Churchill succinctly outlined in the quote at the top of the page. Of even greater concern is the attempt to deny the fact that Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin signed a pact in August of 1939, that secretly included the division of Central and Eastern Europe between Nazi Germany and Communist Russia, that started World War II. This alliance lasted until the summer of 1941 when Hitler ordered the invasion of the Soviet union. Consider for a moment that it was Britain and France who honoring their alliance declared war on Nazi Germany on September 1, 1939 when Poland was invaded by Hitler's Third Reich.  Churchill did not equivocate and in a radio address on October 1, 1939 described the Russian's role as invaders along with the Nazis days after.
 "Poland has been again overrun by two of the great Powers which held her in bondage for 150 years, but were unable to quench the spirit of the Polish nation. The heroic defense of Warsaw shows that the soul of Poland is indestructible, and that she will rise again like a rock, which may for a spell be submerged by a tidal wave, but which remains a rock."
Britain and France were convinced that Russia and Germany were allies and plans were drawn up to attack Russian oil fields in order to deny them to the Nazis in what became known in the planning stages as Operation Pike.  Months later the reversals continued for Christendom. The Fall of France to the Nazi war machine took place between May 10 and June 25, 1940 over the span of 46 days ending in the evacuation of Dunkirk. This disaster is what led to Operation Pike being scrapped.

The British Empire was alone for almost a year between June 25, 1940 through June 22, 1941 as the sole main resistance to Nazi Germany. The United States would remain neutral until Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and the Soviet Union was a de facto ally of Nazi Germany until Hitler invaded communist Russia on June 22, 1941 in Operation Barbarossa. The United Kingdom was all that stood between the survival of Christian civilization and a new Dark Age that Adolf Hitler called the Thousand Year Reich. If one is truly Anti-Nazi then one must celebrate and honor the legacy of Winston Churchill, who early on identified the Nazi threat and issued calls to to resistance with one of the most important in a radio address to London and the United States on October 16, 1938.
"Dictatorship – the fetish worship of one man – is a passing phase. A state of society where men may not speak their minds, where children denounce their parents to the police, where a business man or small shopkeeper ruins his competitor by telling tales about his private opinions; such a state of society cannot long endure if brought into contact with the healthy outside world. The light of civilised progress with its tolerances and co-operation, with its dignities and joys, has often in the past been blotted out. But I hold the belief that we have now at last got far enough ahead of barbarism to control it, and to avert it, if only we realise what is afoot and make up our minds in time. We shall do it in the end. But how much harder our toil for every day’s delay! Is this a call to war? Does anyone pretend that preparation for resistance to aggression is unleashing war? I declare it to be the sole guarantee of peace. We need the swift gathering of forces to confront not only military but moral aggression; the resolute and sober acceptance of their duty by the English-speaking peoples and by all the nations, great and small, who wish to walk with them."
Four years earlier on November 16, 1934, after the Nazis had just been in power a little over two years Winston Churchill warned of their threat to peace:
There is a nation which has abandoned all its liberties in order to augment its collective strength. There is a nation which, with all its strength and virtue, is in the grip of a group of ruthless men, preaching a gospel of intolerance and racial pride, unrestrained by law, by parliament, or by public opinion. In that country all pacifist speeches, all morbid war books are forbidden or suppressed, and their authors rigorously imprisoned. From their new table of commandments they have omitted “thou shall not kill.”
Sadly the world did not listen to Churchill until it was too late to avoid a major conflict, but at least it was not too late to stop the Nazi war machine although it came at great cost and suffering. Churchill understood that to defeat Hitler the Soviet Union would have to change sides and when the Nazis invaded Russia the British Prime Minister joked, "If Hitler invaded Hell, I would at least make a favourable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons.” The price of ending Hitler was cozying up to Josef Stalin, another genocidal totalitarian monster.

Churchill was not blind to the nature of his wartime ally and understood the threat of Josef Stalin and the Soviet Union and thankfully his warnings on March 5, 1946 at Westminster College in Fulton Missouri were listened to this time and may have avoided World War III, albeit with a cold peace.
"From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and, in many cases, increasing measure of control from Moscow." 
He then went on to make a remarkable statement about the circumstances that led to World War II and how it was completely avoidable:
Last time I saw it all coming and cried aloud to my own fellow-countrymen and to the world, but no one paid any attention. Up till the year 1933 or even 1935, Germany might have been saved from the awful fate which has overtaken her and we might all have been spared the miseries Hitler let loose upon mankind. There never was a war in all history easier to prevent by timely action than the one which has just desolated such great areas of the globe. It could have been prevented in my belief without the firing of a single shot, and Germany might be powerful, prosperous and honoured to-day; but no one would listen and one by one we were all sucked into the awful whirlpool. We surely must not let that happen again.
Churchill was not only an Anti-Nazi but also an Anti-Communist and a conservative who on May 24, 1948 observed: "Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy." He also understood and celebrated the importance of free speech. In the midst of the war in 1943 he observed: "Everyone is in favour of free speech. Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people's idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage."  Today let us remember this great statesman, democrat, and conservative and call on all people of good will to learn form this greatest of Britons.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Fact checking the AP for errors of omission on 21 US diplomats harmed in Cuba

What was left unsaid about the mystery in Cuba.

Fact checking the Associated Press for errors of omission
The Associated Press (AP) has released a remarkable article today titled "Cuba mystery grows: New details on what befell US diplomats" on what they described as the "least 21 U.S. victims in an astonishing international mystery."  The AP story then quotes Fulton Armstong, without providing any context into his background beyond "a former CIA official who served in Havana long before America re-opened an embassy there" who went on to claim that there was no "reasonable explanation" and that it was "just mystery after mystery after mystery."  This ignores a long history of harassment and violence against diplomats over the years, including during prior efforts of normalizing relations not to mention outlaw international behavior. The question that arises is how could someone who was in the CIA get the Castro regime so wrong?

What the AP forgot to mention
Fulton Armstrong, a harsh critic of U.S. pro-democracy programs suspected of leaking and spinning information to the Associated Press to compromise them was also a close confidante of Ana Belen Montes, a long time agent of  the Castro regime at the Pentagon. Mr. Armstrong has sought to undermine USAID's pro-democracy programs in Cuba and was caught red handed in 2014 fabricating information with a pro-regime spin. U.S. spy catcher Chris Simmons offered the following assessment at the time on his blog:
Armstrong is well-known for consistently minimizing Cuba’s ability to threaten U.S. interests and its continued support to terrorists. In one interview, Scott Carmichael – the senior Counterintelligence investigator for the Defense Intelligence Agency – said Montes was “on a first name basis” with the Armstrong. In fact, Montes and Armstrong confided in one another by phone into the final stages of her investigation.
There has been a decades long obsession in the U.S. establishment to cozy up to the Castro regime that achieved its first concrete achievements in 1977 during the Carter Administration, followed later on in 1993 during the Clinton Administration, and finally full normalization during the Obama Administration in 2014 despite numerous setbacks against U.S. national security. Fulton Armstrong, a former staffer to Senator John Kerry, has been an advocate for these efforts.

 The Associate Press has a pattern that stretches back years of publishing pro-Castro regime spin and self-censorship while at the same time seeking to minimize and marginalize Cuban democrats. In 2014 Yoani Sánchez  warned foreign news agencies of this practice: "Caution foreign news agencies! Your representatives in these lands are always in danger of becoming hostages, first, and then collaborators of the rulers." Sadly the Associated Press has not only been guilty of this in Cuba, but today in North Korea and and also in Nazi Germany until 1941.

Readers beware if you want to get spin free news on Cuba go elsewhere or read the AP articles with the same caution and skepticism that you read Castro regime publications.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Ominous storm clouds continue: 2 more American diplomats harmed in Cuba

A tale of two hurricanes: Irma and Castro

Hurricane Irma devastated Cuba, but lack of infrastructure Castro regime's fault
Over the past week the news regarding Cuba has rightfully focused on the devastating impact of Hurricane Irma on the island.  The worse of the storm's impact was along the north shore where the hurricane arrived, but even in Havana that was just grazed by the storm there was significant damage and at least 10 deaths. According to EFE Irma damaged 4,288 homes in Havana, with 157 totally destroyed and 986 partially destroyed. The damage in the Cuban Capital also demonstrates over a half century of neglect by the Castro regime.

There was also some controversy regarding the tourism industry that is run by the Cuban military.  On Wednesday, September 6, 2017 the day before the Castro regime gave the order to evacuate Cayo Coco British tourists were still flying into Cuba. The British travel agency "Thomas Cook has defended itself saying the company followed the Cuban government's emergency instructions to the letter," reported BBC News. Cayo Coco suffered the full impact of Hurricane Irma and was destroyed by the storm.

However another controversy continues to fester in Cuba. American diplomats severely injured in a series of sonic attacks that caused brain trauma and hearing loss that began in November of 2016 and continued until August of 2017. Two more American diplomats have been identified as being harmed in Cuba in reports that appeared in The Washington Post, CBS News and other outlets. This brings the total number of Americans attacked in Cuba to 21.

Back on December 17, 2014 this blog made the following observation: "Rewarding the hard line and rogue elements in the Castro regime is unlikely to improve the dictatorship's behavior to the contrary it may worsen."

On September 1, 2017 in an open letter to President Trump made the stakes for changing the current policy and holding the Castro regime accountable clear:
Maintaining the present policy established by the previous administration is harming the lives of American diplomats and needs to be dismantled as soon as possible.  As you stated it is time to adopt a policy approach based "in a principled realism, rooted in our values, shared interests, and common sense."

The Castro regime has a record of attacking and mistreating diplomats stationed in Cuba. Common sense dictates viewing them as hostile not only to American interests but also American lives and security precautions taken to ensure the physical safety of diplomats and their families stationed in Cuba.
There are ominous storm clouds over relations between Cuba and the United States. Americans are already being harmed. Now is the time to address the problem before things deteriorate further. It is important for policymakers to distinguish between the totalitarian dictatorship that represses Cubans, and attacks American diplomats, and the Cuban people.

Policy should seek to help everyday Cubans while not providing or minimizing funds wherever possible going to the repressive apparatus.  Hurricane Irma was a terrible disaster for Cuba but it is also important to remember that Hurricane Castro has been an even greater disaster for the island since 1959 and shows no signs of leaving.

Ominous clouds over US - Cuba relations

Friday, September 8, 2017

Cachita's Feast Day, Hurricane Irma and the Christian Liberation Movement's Founding

"Lift up your heart and do not succumb in the face of adversities, persevere in the way of good; tirelessly helping those oppressed by sorrows and afflictions: these are the important lessons taught to us by Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre." - Pope Francis

Hurricane Irma batters Cuba on September 8, 2017
Today is the Feast Day for Cuba's Our Lady Charity and it coincides with Hurricane Irma devastating the north coast of Cuba's central provinces. Cubans on both sides of the Florida Straits are praying for the intercession of Cachita for those impacted by the force five hurricane.Rosa María Payá Acevedo tweeted a photo of the Maria of Cuba along with the following message: "To the Maria of Cuba we entrust the families affected by Irma. At the feet of the Virgin of the Caridad de la Cobre our sorrows and joys."

In the pictures below taken in 2011, one in Miami and one in Havana, on the same day Cubans gathered to pray and worship for the Virgin of Charity also known affectionately as "Cachita." The Virgin of Charity of El Cobre, Cuba unites Cubans inside the island and in the diaspora.

For the past four centuries, since the Virgin of Charity appeared to the three Juanes in the Bay of Nipe in 1612, She has been a source of popular devotion among Cubans and on May 10, 1916 forever linked with Cuban independence when Pope Benedict XV proclaimed Her Patroness of Cuba in response to a request by veterans of the Cuban war of independence. Since then She has also been known as the Virgin Mambisa. Since 1959 she has accompanied the Cuban diaspora.

Today she gives comfort to the impacted and the afflicted by this monstrous storm.  In 1988 on her feast day a movement was born inspired by Christian teachings and the desire to be free. On this day in 2014 Cuba's Christian Liberation Movement released a statement recalling their founding:

We were born there in the parish of the Cerro, one of the many neighborhoods of Havana. The background: The Circle of the Cerro. Then something more formal, The Circle of Cuban Christian Thought. This was banned and dissolved when it launched the first free Cuban publication, also prohibited, titled "People of God", proclaiming the source of liberation: when we said, "We must obey God before men", "Render to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's, "But if God gives you Freedom, who is Cesar to take it away? "All men and women are my brothers and sisters." "We will not act violently or submit to violence," "You are my brother, I do not hate you, but I am not afraid of you."
Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas described how the Christian Liberation Movement, a democratic opposition movement, came into existence and explained how it was related to the birth of his first child, Oswaldo José.

“When our first child was going to be born, we have three children, we said that our children cannot live in a country without liberty and we are not going to another country to seek freedom. Therefore we have to fight for our children to live free here in Cuba and everyone else's children and their parents too.”    
Oswaldo José was born on February 17, 1988 and the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) was founded that same year on September 8, 1988.   Oswaldo Payá was killed on July 22, 2012 along with the movement's youth leader Harold Cepero. 

Jesús Mustafá Felipe at Solemn Mass for Our Lady of Charity
The dictatorship in Cuba is cruel and represses Cubans and also endangers the lives of foreign visitors. Reports emerged in the British press that travel agencies had not alerted tourists that four of the island's provinces, like South Florida, is presently under a hurricane warning. Mimi Whitfield in The Miami Herald, who on occasion gives the Castro regime the benefit of the doubt in her reporting, published a strange tweet on September 7th stating "Cuba expected to escape Hurricane Irma’s full force." Independent Cuban journalists trying to cover preparations for Hurricane Irma in Cuba have been arrested. Tonight many Cubans on and off the island would strongly disagree with her but more importantly many will be praying for Cachita for protection.

Tonight in Miami and Havana many are praying to Cachita to see them through this terrible storm and in their appeal they are united.