Archive for October, 2011

U.S. Agency Finances More Subversion in Cuba

October 31, 2011

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) just devoted 3,400,000 dollars to finance subversive operations in Cuba.

USAID contributed with this huge figure to the so-called Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba (FHRC), a subsidiary of the Cuban-American National Foundation (CANF), involved in terrorist actions against the Caribbean island, in the midst of an economic crisis that has caused many American citizens to loose their jobs and houses.

This donation was made effective although the FHRC defines itself ironically as a “non-profit” organization that is curiously located in 1312 SW 27 Avenue, at the venue of CANF in Miami.

CANF was founded in 1981 by Jorge Mas Canosa, terrorist,agent and trust man of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and ex-student of the academy of crime of Fort Benning, as well as Luis Posada Carriles.

The terrorist character of CANF has been ratified repeatedly in declassified documents and in confessions by Posada Carriles to the New York Times, in 1998, and by Antonio “Toñin” Llama to the Miami Herald, in 2006.

CANF takes profits from millions of dollars of a federal agency whose links with the CIA are well known of; and notice the fluid relations of this group with Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and her troop of extreme right senators and representatives.

By the end of 2006, an audit from the General Accountability Office on USAID activities against Cuba informed on the purchasing by Miami “fighters” hired by that organization to predicate their version of democracy in the Caribbean island.

Another famous embezzlement took place in a different Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) subsidized by USAID, the Center for a Free Cuba, in Washington, where Felipe Sixto, the right-hand man of CIA agent Frank “Paquito” Calzon, the owner of the center, embezzled half million dollars to the “dissidence”.

(ACN )

Sticky fingers at “Ladies in White” in Cuba

October 29, 2011

Cuban “Ladies in White” Suspect Recently Deceased Leader of Embezzling $20,000
Jean-Guy Allard
Translation: Machetera
Rumors in Havana circulate at lightning speed.  Sources close to the “Ladies in White” [Damas de Blanco] reveal that upon taking charge of the mini-group and reviewing its finances, Berta Soler had the disagreeable surprise of learning that some $20,000 was missing from the organization which is openly funded by the United States.
The “Ladies” founder, Laura Pollán, died on October 14 at the Calixto Garcia Hospital, at the age of 63, victim of cardiac arrest “aggravated by diabetes, hypertension and dengue.”
The discovery of the group’s missing funds came about in a meeting where the 48 year old Soler, who’d acted as second in command until Pollán’s death, was confirmed as the new leader.  The rivalry between the two women who competed for favors from the U.S. diplomatic post in Havana (known as the U.S. Interests Section – USIS) was well known.
In addition to their confirmation of Soler as leader, the twenty odd women who make up the “Ladies in White” confirmed their foreign representatives, Yolanda Huerga, in the U.S., and Blanca Reyes Castañon, in Spain.
The “Ladies in White” are known outside Cuba for the demonstrations they hold two or three times a week near the Church of Santa Rita, in Havana’s Miramar neighborhood, and for holding gladiolas while they march down Fifth Avenue in the same neighborhood.
Each participant earns $30 at each march.  The bosses have a separate budget whose distribution is frequently the subject of internal disputes.
Berta Soler, a microbiology technician who lives in the Alamar neighborhood just east of Havana, left her job at a Havana hospital in 2009 in order to dedicate herself full-time to the better paid work of Cuban government opponent.
The organization is miniscule according to its membership roster, but important for the scale of funding it receives from the U.S. government, through intermediaries.
One of the “Ladies” sponsors, with financing from Washington expressly for this purpose, is a U.S. Army veteran, Orlando Gutiérrez Boronat, who runs the Cuban Democratic Directorate [Directorio Democrático Cubano], an NGO that receives substantial USAID funding to carry out subversive activities in Cuba.  Gutiérrez Boronat is also a former member of the terrorist Organzation for the Liberation of Cuba [Organización para la Liberación de Cuba.]
Like the terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, Gutiérrez Boronat is connected with the right-wing extremists from the ARENA party in El Salvador.
The money earmarked for the “Ladies” and other members of the opposition network fabricated by the USIS was “frozen” for a number of months in Washington in reaction to the various fraud scandals uncovered by the General Accounting Office (GAO), in which very well-known individuals from the Cuban-American mafia were involved.
The former head of the SINA, Jonathan Farrar, became accidentally famous through a Wikileaks document dated April 15, 2009, in which he commented that the so-called dissidence in Cuba was “divided, dominated by individuals who don’t work well as a team” and people “who are more interested in asking for money than carrying out programs.”  He was quickly recalled by the State Department when these statements, which infuriated the anti-Castro mafia in Miami, came out in the press.
On May 19, 2008, Cuban authorities publicly denounced the dissident groups like the “Ladies in White” and others, who have received large sums of money from the confessed Cuban-American terrorist Santiago Álvarez.  The denunciation was made at a press conference where emails, videos and even monetary receipts were presented.
The proof presented was directly connected to the head of the USIS at the time, Michael Parmly, who performed as a mule for the money transfers.  The now deceased Laura Pollán was directly connected to the receipt of $2,400 dollars.

Cultural Space for Cuban Five Return to Cuba

October 28, 2011

Imagen activa

Santiago de Cuba, Oct 28 (Prensa Latina) With the name “Libertad que Viene” (Coming Freedom) a new cultural space was created in this Cuban eastern city, demanding the return of the Cuban Five.

  Pedro Miranda, president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples of the World (ICAP) told Prensa Latina the cultural space is celebrated once a month, gathering local artists and foreign students in universities.

Miranda added that 300 solidarity committees are now functioning in Santiago de Cuba, specially in schools and universities where several children, adolescents and young people exchange correspondence with the four Cuban anti-terrorist fighters still in prison.

Particular emotiveness was given by the identification with Irma and Ivette Gonzalez Salanueva, daughters of Rene Gonzalez, who should get together with his family in Cuba after his release, but is instead condemned to stay in Florida for a supervised freedom of three years, in the middle of dangers for his own life.

ICAP said the territory has been visited by 563 members of 19 groups, among them the Puerto Rican Juan Rius Rivera Brigade in its 20th anniversary.

Foreign diplomats and independent friends have also been received in this place as part of a program for historical, cultural and social exchange.

The Economic Sanctions against Cuba Constitute the Principal Obstacle to the Development of the Country

October 28, 2011

Interview with Salim Lamrani: “The Economic Sanctions against Cuba Constitute the Principal Obstacle to the Development of the Country”
by Cuba Si France


Salim Lamrani.  État de siège; les sanctions économiques des États-Unis contre Cuba(State of Siege: The United States’ economic sanctions against Cuba).  Prologue by Wayne S. Smith.  Preface by Paul Estrade.  Paris, Editions Estrella, 2011.  15 euros.

CSF: You’ve just published a new book under the title État de siège.  What exactly do you cover in it?


SL: As the book’s subtitle suggests, it covers the unilateral economic sanctions that the United States first imposed upon Cuba at the height of the Cold War.  The goal of these sanctions has been the overthrow of the revolutionary government of Fidel Castro, the social and economic reforms of which did not sit well with the Eisenhower administration of the period.  More than a half century later the Soviet Union has disappeared and the Cold War is only a fading memory; still the United States persists in maintaining an economic state of siege that is suffocating for all levels of the Cuban population, although it primarily affects the most vulnerable sectors: women, the elderly and children.

It is important to note that the diplomatic rhetoric used by the United States to justify its hostility towards Cuba has changed from period to period.  Early on, it focused on nationalizations and their compensation.  Later, Washington invoked the alliance with the Soviet Union as the principal obstacle to the normalization of relations between the two countries.  Then, during the 1970s and 1980s, it cited Cuban intervention in Africa — more precisely in Angola and Namibia.  Those interventions, designed to aid the national liberation movements fighting to obtain independence and to support the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, were cited as justification for the maintenance of economic sanctions.  Finally, after the fall of the Soviet Union, Washington brandished democracy and human rights as an argument for maintaining its stranglehold on the Cuban nation.

CSF: What exactly is the impact of these sanctions on the Cuban population?

SL: The economic sanctions against Cuba constitute the principal obstacle to the development of the country and all sectors of the society are affected by it.  It is important to note that the United States, for evident historical and geographic reasons, has always been Cuba’s natural market.  The distance separating the two countries is less than 150 km.  In 1959, 73% of all Cuban exports were destined for the U.S. market and 70% of its imports came from the States.  There was, therefore, a significant dependence upon Cuba’s northern neighbor.  Between 1960 and 1991, relations with the USSR had softened the sanctions, but this is no longer the case.

Thus practically, Cuba is unable to sell anything to the United States, which remains the world’s primary market.  Nor can it buy anything from it other than, and since 2000 only, a few primary agricultural products that it is forced to purchase under severe restrictions.  For example, Cuba is required to pay in advance in a currency other than the U.S. dollar — something that forces Cuba to shoulder the additional costs engendered by the exchange rates — all of this without the possibility of contracting a loan.  This limits enormously the island’s commercial possibilities, forcing it to pay a much higher price to a third country.

CSF: You also emphasize the effects of the extraterritorial economic sanctions.

SL: Indeed, since 1992 and the adoption of the Torricelli Act, these sanctions apply equally to third countries that might wish to trade with Cuba.  This constitutes a serious violation of international law which prohibits any national legislation from being extraterritorial, that is to say, from being applied outside of national boundaries.  For example, French law cannot be applied in Spain and Italian law cannot be applied in France.  Nonetheless, United States economic sanctions remain applicable to all countries that trade with Cuba.

Thus, any foreign ship that docks in a Cuban port finds itself forbidden to enter U.S. ports for a period of six months.  Cuba, being an island, is heavily dependent upon maritime transport.  Of the commercial fleets that operate in the Florida Straits, most conduct the bulk of their activities with a clear understanding of the importance of this market and do not run the risk of transporting merchandise to Cuba.  When they do, however, they demand a higher tariff than that applied to neighboring countries, such as Haiti or the Dominican Republic, this in order to make up for the shortfall that results from being banned from U.S. ports for having done so.  Therefore, if the standard price for transporting merchandise to the Dominican Republic is 100, this figure that can rise to 600 or 700 for Cuba.

CSF: You also comment on the retroactive nature of the economic sanctions.

SL: Since the adoption of the Helms-Burton Act in 1996, all foreign enterprises that wish to invest in Cuban property that had been nationalized in 1959 risk prosecution in the United States and seeing its U.S. investments frozen.  This law is a judicial aberration because it is both extraterritorial and retroactive — in other words, it applies to events that occurred before the law was adopted, something that is contrary to international law.  Take the case of the anti-tobacco law in France.  This law was promulgated on January 1, 2008.  But if you smoked in a restaurant on December 31, 2007, you would not be prosecuted, because the law cannot be applied retroactively.  The Helms-Burton Act applies to events that occurred during the 1960s, something that is clearly illegal.

CSF: The United States maintains that the economic sanctions are a simple bilateral question that does not concern the rest of the world.

SL: The example that I have already cited demonstrate the exact opposite.  I’ll give you another.  In order to sell on the U.S. market, a German, Korean, or Japanese automobile manufacturer — in reality the nationality matters little — is obliged to demonstrate to the U.S. Treasury Department that its products do not contain a single gram of Cuban nickel.  It is the same for all of the agribusiness enterprises that wish to invest in the U.S. market.  Danone, for example, must demonstrate that its products contain absolutely no Cuban raw materials.  Cuba cannot sell its natural resources and its products to the United States, but in these exact cases, neither can it sell them to Germany, Korea, or Japan.  These measures deprive the Cuban economy of much needed capital and Cuban exports of many markets around the world.

CSF: The economic sanctions have also had an impact on healthcare.

SL: Indeed, nearly 80% of all patents applied for in the medical sector belong to U.S.-based multinational pharmaceutical companies and their subsidiaries, which puts them in the position of being a quasi-monopoly.  It should be noted that international humanitarian law forbids all restrictions on the freedom of movement of foodstuffs and medicines, even during wartime.  And officially, the United States is not at war with Cuba.

Here is a clear example: Cuban children could benefit from the Amplatzer septal occluder, a cardiac plug manufactured in the United States that allows one to bypass open heart surgery.  Dozens of children are waiting for this operation.  In 2010 alone, four were added to this list: Maria Fernanda Vidal, five years old; Cyntia Soto Aponte, three years old; Mayuli Pérez Ulboa, eight years old; and Lianet D. Alvarez, five years old.

Are these children responsible for the differences that exist between Havana and Washington?  No!  But they are paying the price.

CSF: In your book, you also talk about the irrational nature of certain restrictions.

SL: Indeed, it should be noted that since 2004 and the strict application of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) rules, any American tourist that smoked a Cuban cigar or consumed a glass of Havana Club rum during a trip abroad risks a fine of a million dollars and ten in years in prison.  Another example: a Cuban living in France theoretically cannot eat a hamburger at a McDonald’s.  Of course, these measures are irrational because they are unenforceable.  The United States does not have the material and human resources to put a U.S. agent on the trail of each tourist.  Nonetheless, it illustrates the United States’ obsessive desire to economically strangle the Cubans.

CSF: Your book contains a prolog by Wayne S. Smith and a preface by Paul Estrade, both well known Cuban specialists, but no doubt without a large audience.  Remind us of who they are.

SL: Wayne S. Smith is a former U.S. diplomat and currently a professor at Johns Hopkins University in Washington DC.  He was the last American diplomat with the rank of ambassador to be posted in Cuba, this between 1979 and 1982.  Under the government of Jimmy Carter, he distinguished himself through his politics of dialog and rapprochement with Havana.  He is a partisan of normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States and his preface takes stock of the anachronistic, cruel, and ineffectual nature of these economic sanctions.

As for Paul Estrade, he is a professor emeritus at the University of Paris VIII and, without a doubt, the best Cuban specialist in France.  His works on Cuban issues are standard references in the academic world.  In his preface, he points to the way in which the state of siege against Cuba is voluntarily obscured by the medias when they report on the economic difficulties of this country.

Salim Lamrani is a professor at Paris Descartes University and Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée University and journalist specializing in relations between Cuba and the US.  For more information about Cuba Si France, visit <>.  Translation by Larry R. Oberg, Québec City, Québec.



Reply to the United States representative in UN

October 28, 2011


Mr. President:

I would like thank you for the fair and professional solution found this morning to address the voting machine malfunction.

Only the flagrant lies presented by Mr. Goddard this morning justify my taking the floor again, at this point in the debate. “You can fool some of the people, some of the time, but not all of the people, all of the time.”

The statement made this morning by the United States was a carbon copy of that made last year and in 2009. Mr. Goddard has come here to defend the policy of President Bush since 2005 and has subsequently spoken as well to defend the policy of Mr. Obama, except in 2009. One has to ask what policy he defends.

I have here, Mr. President, a facsimile from the Daytona Beach Morning Journal, May 16, 1972, which announces that Mr. Ronald D. Goddard, director of the Miami Office, has been reassigned to Washington. Mr. Goddard, in addition to working for the Peace Corps and completing missions of some interest, about which little information is offered, in Ecuador, Nicaragua, Panama, Costa Rica, Chile, Turkey and Central America, worked from1969 to 1972 as head of the Coordinator of Cuban Affairs office in Miami.

Another official declassified document states, as point number six, that the Coordinator will assume responsibility for both covert operations as well as legal operations.

Nevertheless, I agree with him in that the blockade is but one aspect of U.S. policy toward Cuba. He well knows, surely, that the other principal focus is internal subversion, the deployment of agents in the service of the United States within our national territory and the implementation of undercover operations by the USAID and CIA, with millions of dollars of funding, some of which have yet to be revealed. Since I have read the Geneva Convention clauses on genocide many times, I will make a copy available to the United States delegation.

The United States government is responsible for numerous extrajudicial executions, a portion carried out by drones or un-piloted aircraft, in which even U.S. citizens and minors have been killed; it is responsible for torture, for kidnappings, for 1,245 secret flights and secret prisons in Europe, while it maintains a concentration camp where torture takes place, located within territory illegally occupied in Guantánamo, Cuba.

It is not true that the United States and Cuba are trade partners. The ability to buy food in the United States, under difficult conditions, is the result of efforts made by sectors opposed to the blockade policy. These transactions have been processed under very strict regulations which cannot be described as those befitting a commercial relationship, much less as measures promoting flexibility; none meet the standards of the World Trade System.

Mr. Goddard has deliberately lied as to the two figures he cited during this meeting. In particular, he includes in so-called “humanitarian donations to Cuba” funds which the USAID uses to subvert the constitutional order in my country; the remittances which Cubans living in the U.S. send to their families, despite official regulations and restrictions; as well as donations sent by U.S. non-governmental organizations, through much effort, confronting government opposition, which were minimal in 2010.

The United States would do better, instead of unleashing wars, in which more than a million civilians have been murdered, and destabilizing foreign governments, to listen to the opinions of its own people. Close to here, on Wall Street, instead of brutally repressing its citizens, it should listen to what they have to say, to their complaints that there is no real democracy, that everything is determined by economic power, that corporations put profits above people, that greed overpowers justice, that inequality and oppression, as opposed to equality, guide the government. They decry that they have lost their homes, their pensions, their social security programs while the rich receive scandalous bonuses. They denounce that students have been strapped with debt, that the courts have corrupted justice, that millions of dollars are spent to eliminate medical insurance for workers and also that the United States participates in the torture and killing of innocent civilians abroad and perpetuates colonialism.

1,972 people have been executed in this country since 1976, some as a result of court errors. More than 3,000 U.S. citizens are now on death row. Just a few weeks ago, during the general debate here, the world was dismayed by the unjust execution of Troy Davis.

Mr. Goddard lies when he says that a U.S. citizen, a USAID contract employee, was sanctioned in Cuba for providing the Jewish community Internet access. He knows – he is an expert in these issues – that Mr. Gross was implementing an undercover operation in Cuba and committed criminal acts which are illegal in the United States as well.

In Cuba, children ask how it is possible that in this country, terrorists walk the streets and anti-terrorists are jailed. The five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters have suffered cruel, inhumane and degrading conditions for simply trying to prevent terrorist acts. They must be freed, including the one who is currently on supervised release and is being prevented from re-joining his family. It would be an act of justice and if that is not to be, at least, a humanitarian act.

Only in a country like the United States, could the Chairwoman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, a ferocious woman, lead a tribute to international terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, responsible for the in-flight downing of a civilian aircraft and, only here, could a group of children, from a theater company visiting the United States, be called terrorists and spies.

Mr. President:

The political battle which took place here today validates what our

Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz wrote last night in an article entitled NATO’s genocidal role, “The necessity of ending not only the blockade, but the system which engenders injustice on our planet, squanders its natural resources and is placing human survival at risk.”

Thank you very much.

Alarcon Calls to Counteract Media War against Cuba

October 27, 2011

 (acn) Ricardo Alarcon, member of the Politburo of the Cuban Communist
Party, called on Wednesday in this capital to counteract, even more, the media war against the
island, during a workshop to mark the 50th anniversary of the creation of the National
Television Newscast (NTV).
 The president of the Cuban Parliament pointed out that this battle should be faced with even
more strength on the part of the mass media and particularly in the case of The Five, a case
manipulated by some and silenced by others from the beginning.
 Alarcon added that, in this regard, the challenge of all those struggling for the return of
Ramon Labañino, Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez to
their homeland is very big. The latter, he said, is now under supervised release since October
7, after serving his sentence.
  In the presence of journalists, cameraman, editors and specialized personnel, he insisted
on the fact that Cubans have the right to receive truthful and timely information.
   The words of the president of the Cuban Parliament were preceded by those of journalists
Roger Ricardo Luis, Maribel Acosta and Rolando Segura, who focused on the main characteristics
of the media war.
 Also attending the workshop were, among others, Tubal Paez, president of the Association of
Cuba Journalists and Waldo Ramirez, vice-president of the Cuban Institute for Radio and
Television (ICRT); officials from the Ideological Department of the Central Committee of the
Cuban Communist Party, and directors of media outlets.

One for Five?

October 27, 2011

John McAuliff

In a meeting with Hispanic journalists on September 12th, President Obama, referring to Bill Richardson’s trip to Cuba, said:

“Anything to get Mr. Gross free we will support”.

Israel has shown the US how to do it.

If it can exchange Staff Sgt. Gilad Shalit for 1,027 Palestinians, including 315 serving life sentences, why is it so hard for the Obama Administration to release five Cuban intelligence operatives, one imprisoned for life, in return for USAID subcontracted operative Alan Gross?

President Obama can make the first humanitarian gesture by letting Cuban operative Rene Gonzales serve his probation in Cuba, under the supervision of the US Interests Section–if that is required.  President Castro can respond with a humanitarian gesture of giving probation to USAID subcontractor Alan Gross, under the supervision of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington.

Part of a bilateral negotiated arrangement should be the release of the remaining four imprisoned Cuban intelligence agents.

Cuba can respond in like manner, sending four prisoners to the US.  If there were any still held as prisoners of conscience, they deserve priority.  Otherwise the four can be persons convicted for politically motivated acts of violence, the new cause of the Ladies in White.  It is not too big a stretch as Cuba generally regards all anti-regime actions as being motivated if not funded by the US.

Cardinal Ortega could be asked to serve as the intermediary to assure both sides act in good faith.

Each country regards those imprisoned by the other as heroes and exponents of unimpeachable values.  Similarly each country believes those it holds have been legitimately convicted and sentenced under its laws in the defense of national security and sovereignty.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has provided an example of what it means to be serious rather than rhetorical.

Should Obama be equally courageous, he can expect blatant hypocrisy in response.

Jennifer Rubin blogged in the Washington Post about Israel,

Whatever your cost-benefit analysis of the efficacy of a hugely lopsided prisoner exchange — more than a thousand murderers who prey on women and children for a single boyish, kidnapped soldier — only the hardest of hearts is immune to the emotion evoked by Gilad Shalit’s return and his embrace by his prime minister and family…. But in the end, what mattered most was not the composition of the Hamas list of blood-thirsty killers, but the recognition that a unique country will endure great risks for a single life.

She favorably cited the words of the prominent neo-con Elliot Abrams:

There was indeed an unbreakable obligation to bring Shalit home…. This is the product of the compact between the citizen army and the society: we protect you and you protect us.

Yet only days later, Rubin was fulminating against the appeasement of exchanging Alan Gross for the Cuban Five:

Whether it is Cuba or Iran, the administration reverts to “engagement” mode when its engagement efforts are met with aggression and/or domestic oppression. Try to murder a diplomat on U.S. soil?  We’ll sit down and chat. Grab an American contractor and try him in a kangaroo court?  We’ll trade prisoners and talk about relaxing more sanctions.

Again, she favorably cites Abrams disparaging US willingness to address the reasons for Gross’s imprisonment:

It is especially offensive that we were willing to negotiate over support for democracy in Cuba, for that would mean that the unjust imprisonment of Gross had given the Castro dictatorship a significant victory.

Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez gave the Cuban spin on the issue in an interview with the New York Times:

“I do not see any way in which we can move on towards a solution of the Mr. Gross case but from a humanitarian point of view and on the basis of reciprocity”….“I believe that establishing a link between pending bilateral issues to a humanitarian solution in the case of Mr. Gross is a mistake,” he said, later adding, “it is not right to merge this with political issues or add it to the bilateral agenda, which is quite hefty already.”

Alan Gross’s family might take a lesson from the successful campaign to free Gilad Shalit.  As reported by the New York Times Shalit’s family mounted years of protest directed at their own government’s unwillingness to act in a way that could realistically lead to their son’s release, culminating with months of living in a tent near the Prime Minister’s residence.  Gross’s family has followed the opposite strategy, largely aligning itself with the US government’s campaign of pressure on Cuba.

While I  had believed that bilateral issues were the hold up, it seems clear now that the key that unlocks Alan’s cell is President Obama’s action on the case of the Five.  Only Alan’s family and friends can prevail upon the President to use it.

John McAuliff

Fund for Reconciliation and Development
The Havana Note
Links and Resources
A new book by Brazilian author Fernando Morais (summarized here:, ) challenges testimony involving the shoot down of two Brothers to the Rescue planes that resulted in the Five’s Gerardo Hernandez receiving two life sentences.  Morais convincingly links the witness who testified that the event took place over international rather than Cuban waters to the Cuban American National Foundation.

La Colmenita: Cuban kids to perform at Fort Mason

October 26, 2011

Mary Flaherty, Special to The SF  Chronicle

The Cuban children’s theater company La Colmenita will perform one of its own creations, called “Abracadabra,” at Fort Mason on Friday and Saturday.

The play will be in Spanish, with super titles in English, meaning this performance is best for either Spanish speakers, or non-Spanish speakers old enough to follow the writing. Like all La Colmenita’s productions, this one includes rock music and dancing, ranging from high energy to rock and pop to slow ballads with an acoustic guitar.

Bill Martinez, the lawyer who helped the group members get visas, said he saw them perform another production in Havana a few years ago. “It was funny. It was really well done, wonderful theater, very creative,” he said. “At times I just forgot they were kids.”

But kids they are; 22 of them from age 5 to 15 on the U.S. tour.

La Colmenita, which means “the Little Beehive,” was founded in 1990 and has visited more than 25 countries. The group was named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. The group last visited the United States, including the Bay Area, in 2003.

The group performed in Washington, D.C., last week and met with Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland. In New York on Monday, they performed at the United Nations.

“Abracadabra,” directed by Carlos Alberto Cremata, was co-written with the children. The story is inspired by the Cuban 5, who have been jailed in the United States for many years on charges including conspiracy and being unregistered foreign agents, but are considered heroes in Cuba. Supporters say the men were gathering information in the United States to prevent Cuban exile groups from attacking Cuba. One of the Cuban 5, Rene Gonzalez, was released from prison this month.

“The children grew up seeing them on billboards,” said Alicia Jrapko, a member of the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5, who worked to organize the theater group’s U.S. tour after seeing the children perform in Cuba.

In the play, American actor Danny Glover appears in a short video clip (speaking English). La Colmenita has the support of other Anglo celebrities, including singer Jackson Browne and actress Vanessa Redgrave.

Martinez, the lawyer who works getting visas for international artists, spoke in support of the group’s visit.

“If we don’t have communication between countries, we’re reduced to rumors and problems,” he said. “What better way to bring people together than through culture?”

7:30 p.m. Fri., 2 p.m. Sat. $15-$20, under 12 free. Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center, Marina Boulevard at Buchanan Street, S.F.
Read more: 


United States Isolated Once Again at UN

October 26, 2011

Amid strong criticism of the United States, the annual resolution was passed by 186 votes to 2 with 3 abstentions. As in previous years, Israel joined the United States in opposing the UN resolution while the Marshall islands, Micronesia and Palau abstained

By: Juventud Rebelde

NEW YORK, October 25.— Numerous representatives from around the world applauded Cuba’s overwhelming victory at the United Nations when the General Assembly voted overwhelmingly condemned the US blockade against Cuba for the 20th year in a row.

Amid strong criticism of the United States, the annual resolution was passed by 186 votes to two with three abstentions. As in previous years, Israel joined the United States in opposing the UN resolution while the Marshall islands, Micronesia and Palau abstained.

Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez accused the US government of intensifying restrictions on trade and economic contacts with the communist island in recent years. He told the General Assembly the annual votes highlight “the uncomfortable isolation of the aggressor country and the heroic resistance of a people that refuse to give on its sovereign rights.”

The United States has not eased the embargo in the nearly three years since President Barack Obama’s election raised hopes for a change in policy, he added. “Despite the false image of flexibility that the current U.S. administration intends to portray, the blockade and the sanctions remain intact,” Rodriguez told the assembly.

“What the US Government wants to see changed will not change,” he stated, declaring that the Cuban Government will continue to be “the government of the people, by the people and for the people.

“Our elections shall not be auction sales. There shall not be $4 billion electoral campaigns nor a parliament supported by 13 per cent of voters,” he added.

“Why doesn’t President Obama’s administration take care of the US problems and leave us Cubans alone to solve ours in peace?”

Representatives from Vietnam, Russia, Nicaragua and many other countries, as well as the 120-member Nonaligned Movement, spoke Tuesday in favor of the measure calling for the end of the American embargo against the Caribbean country.

“The only consequences of the sanctions are the deterioration of the living standard of the Cuban population, creation of artificial barriers to its economic growth and infringement on the rights and interests of third countries,” Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said. Churkin added that the United States was carrying out “economic strangulation” and called for the “earliest repeal of this senseless anti-Cuban practice running counter to modern international realities.”

Chinese deputy representative to the UN Wang Min told the UN that the resolutions adopted in the past 19 consecutive years have not been effectively implemented, and the economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba imposed by the United States is yet to be lifted. “Such practice has not only severely violated the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the relevant resolutions, but has also inflicted enormous economic and financial losses on Cuba,” said Wang.

Furthermore, sanctions and embargo have severely impeded the efforts by the Cuban people to eradicate poverty, promote economic and social development and achieve the Millennium Development Goals, Wang noted. “They have violated the basic human rights of the Cuban people to food, health and education and their right to survival and development, and affected the normal economic, commercial and financial interactions between other countries and Cuba,” he added.

“China hopes that the US will follow the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the relevant resolutions and terminate its embargo against Cuba as soon as possible,” he said.

Bolivian representative to the UN Juan C. Alurralde spoke about the reiterated occasions that the UN has demanded that the US lift its blockade of Cuba, “If we really believe in democracy,” we will comply with what is voted in the General Assembly. How many more times do we need to vote? he asked.

Venezuelan Ambassador Jorge Valero said it is time for the US to listen to the world. Nicaraguan Ambassador Danilo Rosales Díaz vehemently rejected the address of US representative Ronald Godard discrediting what he called the fallacy of his statements regarding the resolution. “Once again we have heard the US try to justify what is unjustifiable to break down a people who will never yield.”

The Non-Aligned Movement of Countries, the Group of 77 plus China, MERCOSUR, the Islamic Cooperation Organization and the African Union were some of the international organizations who spoke in favor of the Cuban resolution condemning the US blockade.

The resolution presented by Cuba states that the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States government against Cuba has been maintained and further tightened despite the growing and categorical demand by the international community —in particular the United Nations General Assembly— for its elimination.

As a consequence of the rigorous and fierce implementation of the US blockade, Cuba continues to be prohibited from freely exporting and importing goods and services to or from the United States, and it cannot use the US dollar in its international financial transactions or hold accounts in that currency in third country banks. Nor is Cuba permitted access to credit from US banks or any of their branch offices in third countries, or from international institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund or the Inter-American Development Bank.

Despite the official rhetoric intended to persuade international public opinion into believing that the current US government has implemented a policy of positive changes, Cuba remains unable to trade with any subsidiaries of US companies based in third countries; and businesspersons from third countries interested in investing in Cuba are systematically harassed and blacklisted.

One of the distinctive characteristics of the current US administration’s implementation of the blockade has been an upsurge in the persecution of Cuba’s international financial transactions, including those that stem from multilateral organizations that cooperate with Cuba.

The persecution of Cuba’s financial transactions with third countries has intensified regardless of the relations these countries may have with Cuba, the currency used in those transactions or the applicable banking norms in the countries involved.

The US government continues to publicly assert its alleged need to preserve the blockade as “a tool to apply pressure” and maintains its conditions regarding internal order in Cuba as a prerequisite to modify its policy towards the island. Evidently, it has no intention whatsoever to bring about a change in its policy towards the Island or abide by the resolutions that have been repeatedly adopted by the United Nations General Assembly that call for an end to this inhumane policy. The US government has maintained the entire framework of laws and administrative provisions that are part of the blockade’s legal basis and regulations. The basics of that policy have not been modified.

The blockade violates International Law, runs contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, and constitutes a contravention of a sovereign state’s right to peace, development and security. In its essence and objectives, the blockade represents an act of unilateral aggression and a permanent threat against the stability of a nation. The blockade constitutes a massive, flagrant and systematic violation of the human rights of an entire people. It also violates the constitutional rights of US citizens by denying them the freedom to travel to Cuba, and encroaches on the sovereign rights of many other states because of its extraterritorial nature.

Once again, for the 20th time, the world has energetically called for an immediate end to this violation of international law.

La Colmenita Performs at UN

The Cuban children’s theater group, La Colmenita performed on Monday, October 25, at the UN headquarters in New York. Director Carlos Alberto “Tin” Cremata said it was a great honor to hear the numerous voices in the UN General Assembly speak out against the US blockade of Cuba.

In statements to the Cuban televison program The Round Table, Cremata said that he joined the children’s company to sit in on the vote and that they felt immense joy to be able to participate.

Cuban Children Theater Company in San Francisco

October 26, 2011
Imagen activa

San Francisco, Oct 26 (Prensa Latina) The Cuban children’s theater group La Colmenita arrived in California on Wednesday, the last stage of a tour of the United States.

  The child-adolescent group, directed by Carlos Alberto Cremata, successfully closed its stay in New York, after performing at the UN headquarters on October 24.

On Tuesday, the company was invited by the Cuban mission to the UN to attend the vote on the report on the necessity to end the U.S. blockade on Cuba.

Rodriguez held a lively encounter with La Colmenita members after the vote, in which the world once again rejected the trade and economic siege imposed for 50 years by successive US governments against Cuba.

La Colmenita’s agenda in San Francisco includes performances at the Richmond Center for the Performing Arts, Esperanza Elementary School, and the Fort Mason Center, Cowell Theater.

%d bloggers like this: