Archive for May, 2014

Dreaming of the Cuban Five beiing FREE

May 21, 2014

…thank you Osval…

U.S. Chamber’s Donohue to Lead Delegation to Cuba

May 20, 2014


U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue will lead an executive delegation to Cuba next week to develop a better understanding of the country’s current economic environment and the state of its private sector.

“Since I was last in Cuba 15 years ago, a reform program has reportedly taken 600,000 workers from government payrolls and allowed the number of self-employed entrepreneurs in the country to triple to more than 450,000,” Donohue said. “This trip will provide us with a first-hand look at changes in Cuba’s economic policies and whether or not they are affecting the ability to do business there.”

Steve Van Andel, chairman of the U.S. Chamber’s Board of Directors and of Alticor Corporation, and Marcel Smits, CFO of the Cargill Corporation, will travel with Donohue as part of the Chamber delegation. While in Havana, delegation members will meet with a variety of entrepreneurs, private cooperatives…

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The Innocence of Gerardo

May 20, 2014

(Gerardo with late mother and wife Adriana in better times)

By Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada

The meeting in London of the Commission of Inquiry on the case of the Cuban Five examined in depth the specific situation of Gerardo Hernández Nordeloand the infamous charge (Count 3 “conspiracy to commit murder”) lodged only against him. It forms the basis of his sentence, in which he must die two times in prison. He is falsely accused of having participated in the shoot-down of the two planes of the terrorist group that calls itself “Brothers to the Rescue.”

From a legal point of view, for it to have standing in a United States court, the deed in question had have had to occur in international airspace, outside of Cuban jurisdiction. Otherwise, no court of the United States would have been able to take it up.

That is why in the Miami trial the exact location of the incident was discussed at length, repeating what had taken place before in the Security Council of the United Nations and in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). In those discussions, the contradictions between the Cuban radar and those of the United States arose continuously. There is certainly a great deal to write about the U.S. data, for example, the delay of several months in handing it over, which forced a delay in the work of the ICAO and the suspicious destruction of some records, all of which is stated in the ICAO report.

In order to try to resolve the discrepancy in the radars, the ICAO asked the United States to submit the images from its space satellites, a request that was rejected in 1996. Washington also refused to permit the Miami Court to view them. For a long time now it has been opposing the repeated requests by the Center for Constitutional Law and Human Rights of California and has litigated in the Courts of that State in its effort to keep the images from being seen. Soon it will be 20 years of obstinate censorship.

Only the United States has been able to examine what its satellites filmed, but no one else is permitted to see them. Not the UN Security Council, nor the ICAO, nor the United States courts. Why?

There is only one answer. Washington knows that the incident occurred inside Cuba’s territorial waters, very close to the Havana coast and consequently, it never had legal jurisdiction over it. Since the satellite images are irrefutable proof of the Yankee lie nobody but the United States authorities will ever be able to see them.

But the issue is not whether the satellite images exonerate Gerardo. They were not necessary because to convict him the Prosecution had to prove that he personally participated in the incident, something totally absurd, impossible to sustain regardless of where the shoot-down of the invading planes occurred. That problem was and is for Washington.

A problem, because the images prove that the United States, its authorities and its courts had no right whatsoever to try an incident that took place outside its territorial jurisdiction. It should be pointed out, that according to the U.S. radars, the planes flew together the whole time in a southerly direction and at least one of them, according to the U.S.’s own version, had penetrated Cuban territory. Indeed, if one accepts the United States theory about the planes’ location, they were in the vicinity of the Cuban capital, very close to its most central and populous part. In a few minutes they would have flown over it and would have been able to cross the island to the southern coast.

This did not take place near the United States airspace, rather it was far below the 24th Parallel which demarcates the zones of aerial supervision of both countries. It was there, within the area under Cuban control where a good part of the flight transpired, southward toward Havana and ignoring the indications and warnings issued by the Air Traffic Control Center of our country.

In any case, Gerardo had absolutely nothing to do with the deed, no matter where it occurred. And the United States authorities knew that perfectly well.

According to the Indictment of September 1998, the FBI had identified Gerardo and knew the mission he was carrying out. From 1994 on they were viewing his communications with Cuba, more than two years before that incident which grievously affected the situation between both countries.

The mobs of the Batista-terrorist mafia called then for war in the streets of Miami. Meanwhile, according to what President Clinton wrote in his Memoirs, the White House was discussing a possible bombardment of Cuba. He opted to promote the Helms-Burton law, accompanied by bellicose threats. Can anyone believe that they would not act against Gerardo if he had been involved? They did nothing precisely because his innocence was clear to them.

It is also the reason they did not charge him when he was arrested together with his comrades in September 1998. In the initial indictment not one word is said about the event of February 24, 1996, nor is anything said about the plane shoot-down or related issues. They did not do that because the FBI, which possessed and had read the messages between Gerardo and Havana, knew he was innocent.

Count 3 (“conspiracy to commit murder”) was drawn up only against Gerardo. It was more than seven months after the arrest of the Cuban Five, when they were in solitary confinement — the infamous “Hole” — isolated from the world and where it was impossible to defend themselves. To that end the Prosecution presented a Second Superseding Indictment that — as the Miami press described it — was created in meetings openly carried out by the FBI, the Prosecution and the leaders of the terrorist groups.

It was an arbitrary accusation, fabricated top to bottom, with the sole objective of satisfying the criminals, inflaming the hatred against Gerardo and his comrades and guaranteeing beforehand the worst, most illegal and irrational convictions. Count 3 was the focus of the lawless and vulgar media campaign, promoted and financed by the Federal Government. Like a tsunami of lies, it slammed a defenseless community paralyzed by terror. It was five articles per day in the print newspapers, endless commentaries day and night on radio and local television, creating what the panel of judges in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2005 characterized as a “perfect storm” of hatred, prejudice and hostility.

A major part of the trial centered on Count 3. Inside and outside the courtroom, individuals linked to “Brothers to the Rescue” agitated and made strident statements that the local media amplified. They and the U.S.-paid “journalists” persecuted and besieged the members of the jury who complained to the judge. She, for her part, several times also complained to the Government, of course, to no avail.

In the courtroom, despite all this, the baseless lie of the Prosecution was defeated. The accusers, who were so effectively promoting hatred and prejudice against him, were unable to present one single proof to connect Gerardo to the events of February 24. Not a thing.

So overwhelming and obvious was its defeat that the Government did something highly unusual. At the end of the discussions, when the judge was about to issue her instructions to guide the jury in its verdict deliberations, the prosecutors objected, surprisingly, to the text that the Judge had prepared, which reflected the Indictment word for word. They proposed changing it radically. The Judge, for good reason, did not accept the request, asserting that they had spent seven months discussing the prosecution’s indictment and it was much too late to modify it. That same day the Prosecution rushed to do something even more unusual: In an action that it acknowledged was “unprecedented,” the Prosecution appealed to the Court of Appeals with an “emergency writ of prohibition,” seeking to overturn the decision of the trial court as well as postpone the trial.

In the strange document the Prosecution maintained that “In light of the evidence presented in this trial, this [the instruction given by the judge] presents an insurmountable hurdle for the United States in this case, and will likely result in the failure of the prosecution on this count.”

It should be emphasized that, according to the universal principle of Law, a person is innocent unless and until proven otherwise and it is the obligation of the accuser to present the necessary proof or evidence to show the guilt of the accused. The Prosecution certainly faced “an insurmountable obstacle” for the simple reason that it could not show any proof against Gerardo, merely because it does not exist, nor can it exist. They lacked any evidence against him and worse still, they knew — since they possessed all his communiqués of several years with Havana, including the years before the planes’ incident —that he had had no relation whatsoever with that deed. In other words, when the Prosecution issued its Second Superseding Indictment, it was fully aware that it was accusing an innocent man and consequently was perverting justice in an unpardonable and gross manner.

Count 3 was a grave violation of the Constitution and law and also the legal and professional duty of the prosecutors. They worked hand in hand with the FBI of Miami as agents and accomplices of a terrorist mafia whom they should be combating, when in reality they were at their service with a scandalous subservience.

The Court of Appeals did not accept the late petition of the Prosecution and from that point on, developments occurred that would be surprising if we were dealing with a case which from beginning to end, has been and is an enormous mockery of justice.

Very quickly, without expressing any doubts, without asking any questions, in a few hours the Jury declared the Cuban Five guilty of each and every one of the Charges lodged against them, including Count 3. It did not matter to them that regarding Count 3 the Prosecution had admitted its failure and persisted in trying to get it withdrawn.

Upon the trial’s conclusion in the first week of June 2001, the Judge announced that she would impose the sentences in mid-September. The abominable terrorist act on the 11th of that same month and year apparently made her change her mind. Neither she nor the Government would feel comfortable brutally punishing anti-terrorist heroes while W. Bush joyfully and with great fanfare launched his “war on terrorism” throughout the planet. They would wait three months.

Finally, on December 14, 2001, Gerardo was sentenced to two life sentences plus 15 years.

Everyone in the Courtroom knew they were punishing an innocent man.

El ex general en su laberinto

May 19, 2014

La pupila insomne

Edmundo García

Edmundo García Edmundo García

Hace unos días el Instituto de Estudios Cubanos y Cubano Americanos (ICCAS) de la Universidad de Miami, que tiene su sede en la Casa Bacardí en Coral Gables, circuló una invitación para un evento que debió desarrollarse ayer jueves 15 de mayo a las 7 de la noche. Este consistía en la presentación del libro “Inside Castro’s Bunker”; nada del otro mundo: solo una versión en inglés de cosas que su autor, el ex general Rafael del Pino, declaró a su llegada hace 27 años robándose una avioneta Cessna 402 de Cuba y aterrizándola en Cayo Hueso, Estados Unidos.

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Senior diplomats from Cuba and the U.S. meet in the State Department

May 16, 2014


Under Secretary of State for Latin America, Roberta Jacobson, met
Thursday in Washington with the director of the North Division of
the Cuban Foreign Ministry, Josefina Vidal America, confirmed the
State Department .

The two governments have already publicly expressed interest in
normalizing relations in a gradual process, but for the moment
have not seen concrete steps.

A spokesman for the U.S. Chancellery merely confirmed that the
meeting between diplomatic occurred in the morning , but neither
side disclosed the contents of the meeting.

United States and Cuba maintain regular contacts at the technical
level to discuss specific issues such as immigration laws and
postal activities, but these are not comparable to Vidal ‘s visit
to Washington, which is a high-level diplomatic dialogue .

Since November last year, the Cuban Interests Section in
Washington lacks banking services, as U.S. or foreign banks
operating in the United States refuses to accept the management
of their accounts because of the legislation .

The State Department has said on several occasions that it was
helping the Cuban delegation to find a bank to manage their
accounts, but at the moment the problem remains unresolved.

It is unknown whether Vidal ‘s visit to Jacobson served to
address this issue or the situation of American Alan Gross was
arrested in Cuba since 2009 for distributing telecommunications
equipment that the Havana government considered non-commercial .
Washington has publicly called for Cuba to release Gross ” for
humanitarian reasons” .

The Cuban government has reiterated its readiness to conduct ”
high-level contacts ” to address the situation of Gross and three
Cuban agents arrested in U.S. for spying on radical members of
the Cuban -American community .
Publicado el jueves 15 de mayo del 2014
Diplomáticos de alto nivel de Cuba y EEUU se reúnen en el
Departamento de Estado

Google translation.
Revised by Walter Lippmann.

Cuban Five: A Prisoner Exchange that Could Improve Relations Between Cuba and the United States

May 16, 2014


by Salim Lamrani

Since 2009, U. S. agent Alan Gross has been serving a fifteen year prison sentence in Cuba for providing material support to the Cuban opposition. In the meanwhile, three Cuban agents have been incarcerated in the United States since 1998. The possibility of an exchange of prisoners exists. The case of Gerardo Hernández, one of the three Cubans sentenced to two terms of life imprisonment, lends itself particularly well to such a humanitarian agreement. Here, in 25 points, are the reasons why.

1. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, the radical sector of the Florida-based Cuban exile community increased its terrorist attacks against Cuba. The tourism industry – a vital sector of the fragile Cuban economy – was a particular target. Bomb attacks resulted in dozens of casualties. Faced with the immunity these violent fringe groups were receiving from U.S. authorities, the Havana government decided to send several agents to the United States to infiltrate these criminal organizations and prevent the realization of further potentially lethal acts.

2. In June 1998, after gathering evidence about the terrorist activities of 64 exiles living in Florida, the Cuban government invited two FBI officers to Havana in order to present them with the evidence that it had accumulated. But, rather than arresting those responsible for these crimes, the FBI arrested the five Cuban intelligence services agents who had infiltrated the criminal organizations: René González Sehweret, Ramón Labañino Salazar, Fernando González Llort, Antonio Guerrero Rodriguez and Gerardo Hernández Nordelo.

3. Following a trial that has been denounced by many legal institutions for its numerous irregularities, the five Cubans nonetheless won their case on appeal from a three-judge panel of the Atlanta Court of Appeals. The tribunal found that they had not received a fair trial. The U.S. government, however, lodged an appeal and the Five eventually received a total of four sentences of life imprisonment, and an additional sentence of 77 years. On October 13, 2009, the Atlanta Court of Appeals instructed the Florida court to modify the prison sentences for three of the five defendants. The review that was conducted resulted in Antonio Guerrero’s penalty of life imprisonment plus 10 years being changed to 21 years plus 10 months, plus an additional penalty of five years of supervised release. On December 8, 2009, Fernando González’ sentence of 19 years was reduced to 17 years plus nine months. In the case of Ramón Labañino, his sentence of imprisonment for life plus 18 years was reduced to 30 years in prison. Rene González and Fernando González were freed after serving their entire sentences.

4. Gerardo Hernández was sentenced to two terms of life imprisonment plus 15 years in prison for conspiracy to commit a quadruple murder. He is accused of being directly involved in an incident that occurred on February 24, 1996. That day two planes, manned by four pilots from the Florida-based organization Brothers to the Rescue (BTTR), were shot down by Cuban armed forces after having violated Cuban airspace 25 times in 20 months.

5. José Basulto, president of BTTR, a former CIA officer who had participated in the Bay of Pigs invasion, is heavily implicated in terrorist acts against Cuba. In a Miami television interview Basulto publicly admitted to having participated in several strikes against Cuba, including a bazooka attack on a hotel in August of 1962.

6. BTTR was founded in 1991 to assist the Cubans trying to reach Florida by sea. In 1994, Washington and Havana signed immigration agreements that authorized the granting of 20,000 visas per year to Cubans wishing to emigrate. These agreements also provide that any person attempting to reach the United States by sea would be returned to Cuba. With this agreement, BTTR lost its reason for being and has since begun organizing raids inside Cuban airspace.

7. A chronology of events permits us to capture the key elements of this story. During the months preceding the serious incident of February 24, 1996, Cuban authorities warned the United States frequently, both through diplomatic notes and unofficial channels, that repeated violations of its airspace constituted a threat to Cuban national security and that the planes involved were running the risk of being shot down. Washington chose to ignore these warnings.

8. Ignoring the risk of being shot down, BTTR aircraft on several occasions provoked the Cuban armed forces by entering Cuban national airspace. In addition to its forays over the capital, BTTR planes created interference between the Havana control tower and aircraft landing at José Martí International Airport, thereby endangering the lives of thousands of Cuban passengers and foreign tourists.

9. On July 13, 1995, BTTR planes flew over the city of Havana and dropped 20,000 leaflets, inciting the population to rise up against the government.

10. On the same day, Cuban authorities sent a letter emphasizing the possibility of a military response to the Federal Aviation Administration. The letter underscored the illegal incursions into Cuban national airspace and the “serious consequences” that such acts could entail if they were to continue .

11. The Government of the United States, instead of taking the necessary measures to prevent such violations of international law, allowed BTTR the latitude necessary to pursue their incursions, despite the fact that the organization, since 1994, had repeatedly filled false flight plans with the Federal Aviation Administration.

12. At no time had Gerardo Hernández participated in the Cuban airspace violations, nor had he incited BTTR members to commit these illegal and dangerous acts. Moreover, Hernandez had never participated at the necessary hierarchical level within BTTR to prevent these flights. Everything was under the control of José Basulto.

13. The State Department issued several statements warning BTTR that its planes ran the risk of being shot down if they continued to violate Cuban airspace.

14. In January 1996, BTTR dropped 500,000 leaflets over Havana inciting the population to overthrow the government. On January 15, 1996, Cuba once again demanded that the U.S. put an end to the repeated violations of its airspace.

15. After new breaches of their national airspace in January 1996, Cuba warned Washington that if these overflights continued, the aircraft would be shot down. Havana reiterated these warnings to all U.S. public figures who visited the island between January 15 and February 23, 1996.

16. On January 22, 1996, the State Department sent an alert to the Federal Aviation Administration: “One of these days, the Cubans are going to shoot down one of those planes .” José Basulto had repeatedly stated in the media that he was aware of the danger.

17. In February 1996, Cuban authorities sent a message to their agents in Miami indicating that in no case should they participate in BTTR flights.

18. On February 23, 1996, the Federal Aviation Agency sent an “Alert Cuba” message to several agencies indicating that BTTR planned a new foray into Cuban airspace the following day. “The State Department said it would be unlikely that the Cuban government would exercise restraint this time .”

19. On 24 February 1996, the government of the United States warned the Cuban authorities that three BTTR planes had taken off from Miami and were able to penetrate Cuban airspace.

20. After several warnings, two of the three planes were shot down by Cuban forces in Cuban airspace, an action that constitutes an act of self-defence under international law. No country in the world – certainly not the United States – would have waited until the 26th violation of its airspace by an organization, after having made numerous appeals for help, to take such a measure.

21. However, the United States asserts that, according to its satellite data, the two planes were shot down in the international zone, which would constitute the crime for which Gerardo Hernández is accused. Of course, publication of satellite data would remove any ambiguity about the matter. However, since 1996, the United States has refused, for reasons of “national security,” to make this information public despite repeated requests from Gerardo Hernández’ lawyers.

22. In any case, Hernández has not been implicated in the decision to shoot down the planes, a decision that was taken by the Cuban authorities at the highest level.

23. In order to convict Gerardo Hernández, the prosecution needed to prove that there had been an illegal scheme afoot to shoot down BTTR aircraft in international airspace and that Hernández had precise knowledge of this scheme and in fact had supported such an action. The prosecution was unable to provide any evidence demonstrating the involvement of Gerardo Hernández in this drama. Better yet, the prosecutor acknowledged that “the evidence presented at trial that attempts [to prove the involvement of Gerardo Hernández] represents an insurmountable obstacle for the United States .”

24. Judge Phyllis A. Kravitch of the Atlanta Court of Appeals has spoken about the case of Gerardo Hernández: “A shoot down in Cuban airspace would not have been unlawful […]. It is not enough for the Government to show that a shoot down merely occurred in international airspace: the Government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Hernández agreed to a shoot down in international airspace. Although such an agreement may be proven by circumstantial evidence, here, the Government failed to provide either direct or circumstantial evidence that Hernández agreed to a shoot down in international airspace. Instead, the evidence points out toward a confrontation in Cuban airspace, thus negating the requirement that he agreed to commit an unlawful act .”

25. For all of these reasons, Barack Obama should use his powers as President of the United States and pardon the three Cubans that are still imprisoned. This will have the immediate effect of freeing Alan Gross and improving relations between Washington and Havana.

Translated from the French by Larry R. Oberg

Docteur ès Etudes Ibériques et Latino-américaines at the University of Paris Sorbonne-Paris IV, Salim Lamrani is a Lecturer the University of La Réunion, and a journalist who specializes in relations between Cuba and the United States.

The author’s latest book is The Economic War against Cuba. A Historical and Legal Perspective on the U.S. Blockade, New York, Monthly Review Press, 2013., (prologue by Wayne S. Smith and preface by Paul Estrade).

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How Much Longer? Obama and the Cuban Five !

May 15, 2014




The arrest in Cuba of four Miami residents who came with the aim of carrying out terrorist acts here that were planned there — where they received training, resources and where their bosses are — brings to light once again the absolute injustice committed against our Five compatriots. They were conducting a difficult and risky mission precisely to try to prevent similar crimes.

The heroic task of Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando and René was perfectly legitimate. It was based on what is known as “state of necessity” or otherwise known as “necessity defense.” In certain circumstances, to save lives that are in danger a person can commit lesser violations (forcing entry into a home without asking permission and causing material damage in order to rescue someone from a fire, is an easy example to understand).

In this case, to save other lives, they put their own lives in danger, and not just in one heroic act — as in the example of the house on fire — but rather in many heroic acts in the years that they worked inside the worst terrorist groups, in order to discover their plans. They never used arms nor used force or violence. In their daily lives they obeyed the law and their social duties. They were models of civility as their neighbors and co-workers testified in their trial.

Our compatriots technically committed only one fault: they didn’t reveal to authorities the nature of their mission in Miami. That violation of not having registered as a foreign agent is quite common in the United States and it is normally resolved with payment of a fine.

In the case of the Cuban Five that omission is also completely justified. In fact, it was essential. Why would someone struggle against Miami terrorism and at the same time notify the very same authorities who have helped and supported the terrorists for 50 years?

The very trial they were subjected to proves that point to the hilt. From the initial indictments to the sessions where their excessive sentences were imposed and throughout the trial, the prosecutors never hid the fact that they were on the side of the terrorists, that they were their protectors, and to support them they placed our heroes in the docket of the accused in a bizarre subversion of justice.

The judge, for her part, had her own unforgettable moments, which exposed the true essence of what was occurring. This was especially true when she imposed their sentences, which included, at the request of the Government, the so-called “incapacitation clause”, subjecting the defendants to a special regimen — after they were to complete their exaggerated prison terms — that the Prosecution considered “perhaps more important” than the unjust imprisonment.

It had to do with preventing that never again any of the Cuban Five could attempt anything against the terrorists.

Since René and Antonio were U.S. citizens by birth and could not be expelled immediately from the country, as Fernando was recently, they added several years of “probation” with strict conditions that included this very telling one: “As a further special condition of supervised release the defendant is prohibited from associating with or visiting specific places where individuals or groups such as terrorists, members of organizations advocating violence, and organized crime figures are known to be or frequent.”

This outrageous order was issued in December 2001. In those days W. Bush proclaimed that “any government that supports, protects or harbors terrorists is complicit in the murder of the innocent and equally guilty of terrorist crimes” and motivated by that idea he unleashed everywhere his “war against terrorism.” Wherever it may be, although for Bush obviously Miami is on another planet.

The judge’s clause to protect the terrorists is the very essence of the whole saga of the Five. It is enough to read the order issued by the same judge, 10 years later, when René left the prison. She wanted to force him to remain there, alone, isolated, unarmed, without the possibility of defending himself against any aggression. As if that weren’t enough the judge repeated, word for word, the prohibition given 10 years before. The warning was very clear: They were not going protect René from the terrorists, but rather protect them from René.

Today, like yesterday, the United States government clearly recognizes that they know who the terrorists are in Miami. They also know where they are and what places they frequent. But it also shows, shamefully, that the “Bush doctrine” doesn’t apply to them, and instead of capturing and sending them to jail, it dedicates its efforts to protect them.

That’s why it surprised no one when in 2005 Luis Posada Carriles — wanted for 20 years by Interpol, fugitive from Venezuelan justice who was being tried for the destruction of a civilian airliner in mid-flight in 1976 —decided to install himself in Miami and continue promoting terrorism against Cuba, and no longer while underground, but out in the open.

It was also no surprise that four members of Posada’s terrorist network have come to Cuba several times to prepare new attacks and are now in prison here. They are individuals with a criminal record in Miami, and have even boasted publicly about their criminal intentions.

The impunity with which these criminal groups continue to operate is a direct consequence of the process pursued against our Five comrades. What happened more than 15 years ago was a clear message still in effect: in Miami not only is terrorism against Cuba permitted, but also benefits with the complicity and protection of the authorities.

The conversion of southern Florida to a sanctuary for terrorism can also be a dangerous game for the people of the United States. While the Cuban Five were imprisoned and the infamous trial was conducted against them, the majority of the terrorists who carried out the atrocity on Sept. 11, 2001 were training right there in Miami. None of them raised suspicions; none of them drew the interest of the FBI. Because in Miami, the FBI has no time for those things since they dedicate their all to protect the anti-Cuban terrorism and to punish those who try to prevent their crimes.

Barack Obama is approaching the mid-term of his second and last period as President. When he entered the White House in 2009 he received an immoral and hypocritical conduct he is not responsible for. But he will be if he does nothing to change it.

In his hands is the power to do something so he is remembered as someone different from his predecessor. The first thing would be to grant immediate and unconditional freedom to Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero. He can do it and he knows it. He also knows that if he doesn’t do it, history will not forgive him.

Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada has served as Cuba’s UN ambassador, Foreign Minister and president of the National Assembly.

Captured four terrorists in Cuba from Miami: They wanted to attack military installations (+ photo)

May 8, 2014

NYC Havana Blog


On 26 April, the Interior Ministry forces detained citizens and residents of Cuban origin in Miami, United States

Ortega José Amador, Obdulio Rodríguez González, Santos and Pacheco Raibel Felix Alvarez Monsoon when executing planned terrorist actions in the country.

Detainees recognized that intended to attack military installations with the aim of promoting violence. For these purposes, since mid-2013, three of them had made several trips to the island to study and model execution.

Further stated that these plans will have been organized under the leadership of terrorist Santiago Alvarez Fernández Magriñá, Osvaldo Mitat and Manuel Alzugaray, who reside in Miami and have close links with the notorious terrorist Luis Posada Carriles .

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Journalism and the Cuban Embargo

May 3, 2014


Dying Shibboleths
Journalism and the Cuban Embargo

One of the biggest rags in Boston printed an article on Cuban-American relations two weeks ago to the day. It re-presented the origins of the 1960 US embargo on Cuba, declaring that the island nation owed private US interest billions of dollars after decades of simple interest accrued. The piece implicated Castro in the expropriation of nearly $2 billion worth of assets, which occurred during the nationalization process of the post-revolution Cuban economy. After identifying Castro’s unprecedented action as the lynchpin for the embargo’s conception, the article then summoned the legal obligation of the United States to defend private US property claims that were allegedly preyed upon by the Cuban government following the wake of revolution. Thus, the piece treated the US economic retaliation against Cuba, its embargo, as little more than a reasonable, obligatory legal action, a policy ultimately leveraged in specific defense of the American people and the securities assailed by Castro and his cadre of revolutionary guerrillas in Cuba.

Many informed readers doubtless shook their heads while digesting the shibboleths contained in this recent article. The conclusion readers are supposed to surmise from many of the contemporary pieces on Cuba is precisely that Cuba bears all culpability for the perennial rejuvenation and continuation of the Yankee embargo against it. The gambit is that Cuba has wrought the embargo on itself through thievery, and so the US is not at fault for the unneighborly economic sanctions it has been obligated to enact against Cuba. If only Cuba would give back the land and repay its debts! is the cry of many articles still published today. Truly, nothing is gained by such paradoxical thinking. How can this still be a mainstay in the rubric for normalizing relations between the two nations? The embargo has invariably robbed the Cuban people of an enormous amount of money – certainly a lot more than the $7 billion it supposedly owes private US interest!

The depiction presented by many articles on the topic in question are not entirely representative, or even mostly representative, of the facts undergirding Castro’s economic actions, the whole of the 1959 Cuban Revolution, or especially the truth about the embargo and its raison d’être. Even so, the truth is not necessarily at stake when it comes to journalism pieces written on Cuba and the stranglehold that the US seeks to maintain around its economic neck. No. Any article that seems to “get at the truth” has a good possibility of being little more than smoke and mirrors, theatricality and props which ultimately serve to maintain the popular paradigm concerning America’s right to uphold the embargo for having been economically violated. Nevertheless, what certainly does hang in the balance is the unthinking permission that the US government needs in order to sustain its aggression, and without serious obstruction from popular opposition within the walls of its own house. Furthermore, pieces such as the one written two weeks ago in Boston become especially important to Washington as the majority of Americans now favor lifting the embargo altogether.

The most predominant and modular conclusions about the US embargo on Cuba teeter on the brink of absurdity, never mind how many times the story gets re-spun from the pen of one lazy journalist to the next. The fact remains that Americans are still presented with disingenuous literature galore when it comes to Cuba. Washington knows that if the masses acquiesce, then their government can continue to properly terrorize Cuba and to avenge its botched attempt to subdue the island nation into indefinite servitude via the wholly illegitimate Batista regime (a puppet government it trained to torture the Cuban body politic for the purpose of control and subjugation). For that matter, purporting the innocence of each American presidential regime since Eisenhower happens to be part of the old think that requires ceaseless perpetuation in order for America to reap the benefits of its endless, embargo. This train of thought also attempts to endear the American people to their political leadership, deafening them to the cries for solidarity that ring out from the voices of their Cuban brothers and sisters across Gulf waters. And the rhetoric engulfing Cuba in popular American newspapers does nothing more than float imperial agendas a little while longer.

However sad and unfortunate it may yet be, much of the literature on the embargo will continue amounting to little more than the hackneyed victim blaming of past decades. It will continue to infuse the rote journalism that so often pretends to authentically probe Cuban-American relations. But the Cuban Revolution endures and the majority of American people now trend toward a much stronger solidarity with Cuban people, a solidarity that spells the end of embargo. As Americans have increasing access to information on Cuba, the floodgates open a little bit more, and popular sentiments change. Still, imperium does not want truly informed readers when it comes to Cuba or the embargo, and they will rage against the new literature. Empire abhors that more and more people can now see its embargo for what it really is: a pathetic, aging attempt at the economic repression of a sovereign Latin American nation that hinges on profit and pride alone. Thus, a large albeit dying part of US statecraft depends on whether or not the same story gets retold. But the American people see that can take a different road, and they are starting to do so. It is time to start writing new articles on Cuba and how the American people said No! to empire, and No! to the embargo.

*Mateo Pimentel lives in the southern Andes region of Peru.

Music Producer Greg Landau Sends a Letter to Obama Asking for the Freedom of the Cuban 5

May 2, 2014

Greg Landau-710
Greg Landau is an award-winning music/video producer, educator and music historian with a doctorate from UC San Diego’s prestigious School of Communication. Over the last 20 years he has produced six Grammy nominated CD’s and among the over 50 CDs, numerous film sound tracks and videos. His musical productions have been featured in films and television including the new Benjamin and Peter Bratt film, “La Mission”, Oliver Stone’s, “Comandante”, Survivor: Nicaragua, CSI Miami, The Family Guy, Dexter, Burn Notice, Nash Bridges, Punk’, HBO’s Hemingway and Gelhorn, and several PBS documentaries. He teaches at UC Santa Cruz, and San Francisco City College and has served as a Governor of the Nation Association of Recording Arts and Sciences/

May 5, 2014

Dear President Obama,

I am writing to you to ask you to review the case of the Cuban Five. These men acted to stop the terrorist activities being carried out in Florida by Cuban exiles against their homeland. My father, Saul Landau, gathered abundant evidence of the activities of these groups that operated with impunity in Florida with tacit support from local government officials who looked the other way at their illegal conspiracies to carry out armed attacks on Cuban soil.

The Cuban Five men were convicted in 2001 and have served lengthy sentences. The time has come to let them go, to end the cold war mentality that has shaped the United States-Cuba policy for decades despite huge shifts in the geopolitics that created them. The release of the remaining prisoners would signal a shift in U.S. policy to Cuba and a desire to heal past wounds opened decades ago in a world that does not exist anymore. The Soviet Union has disappeared, we now have normal relations with China and Vietnam, Cuba poses no danger to the United States, except as an example of the irrational policies of the past.

I have taken many student groups to Cuba over the last decade and they are amazed at the difficulty that the U.S. government policies have created for ordinary Cuban citizens and their desire to end this senseless blockade of our neighboring island. Free the Cuban Five as a gesture to end this political barrier to friendship between the United States and Cuba,


Greg Landau
Music Producer


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