Archive for February, 2016

Listening to what THEY have to say

February 29, 2016

NYC Havana Blog

Listening to what THEY have to say

It is said that we humans were given one mouth and two ears for a reason; more than providing us simply with the means to talk, the Good Lord doubled down on our ability to listen.  Given his rich endowment in the hearing department, President Obama could really get an earful if he went to Cuba as equipped to receive as he is to transmit.

In expressing this view, we appear to be in the minority. Up to now, every opinion column we’ve read reacting to his upcoming trip has offered little more than points the writers want him to score, or lists of demands they want him to make.

Some add demands that the President gather together pre-selected groups of Cubans who will say to him exactly what the most determined critics of his policy here in the U.S. want Mr. Obama to hear.

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US: Same objective, different strategy for Cuba

February 29, 2016

JSC: Jamaicans in Solidarity with Cuba

fidel y nixon 5raul y obama 2Obama’s actions prior to his visit

By Néstor García Iturbe
February 20, 2016


 This translated version, without subheads, appeared on

Obama’s visit to Cuba in context

Many of those “well versed in the material” are saying that in our remaining days before the Nobel Peace Prize winner arrives in Cuba surely the U.S. government will make some gestures toward our country that will “sweeten” the environment so that when the welcoming takes place, the climate will be favorable for the visit.

I don’t imagine that the reception will be along the lines of the film “Welcome Mr. Marshall” with a long row of people, from the airport to the place where he is going to stay, all holding little U.S. flags, and musical groups playing the Marines’ Hymn as the motorcade passes by. (1)  That’s all well and good, but not too much of it!

It looks…

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The White House National Security Agenda for Obama’s Visit to Cuba

February 29, 2016

JSC: Jamaicans in Solidarity with Cuba

Source:  Global Research
By Arnold August
February 23 2016

Ben Rhodes.jpgBen Rhodes, Assistant to Obama and Deputy National Security Advisor, provides crucial input into the new tactical road map for Cuba policy regarding Cuba–US relations. Rhodes, who is also officially the speechwriter for Obama, is to be commended, along with the President himself, for the new Cuba policy, including the decision concerning the President’s visit to Cuba.

One of the most important documents serving as the basis of this visit is the February 18, 2016 transcript of a Press Briefing by Rhodes and White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest. Unfortunately, it has not been widely disseminated. During the course of the briefing, Rhodes had to answer questions from journalists, which forced him to elaborate on the plan for the President’s visit to Cuba as part of Cuba–US relations.

The briefing indicates that the US is on the offensive with regard…

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Current Status of Efforts To End U.S. Embargo of Cuba

February 28, 2016


Many prior posts have discussed this blogger’s support for ending the U.S. embargo of Cuba. Unfortunately it looks increasingly unlikely that will happen in the last year of President Obama’s term in office.

U.S. Congressional Efforts

A 2/26/16 search of the U.S. Library of Congress THOMAS website regarding legislation in Congress reveals that no action whatsoever has been taken in this Session of Congress on two Senate bills to end the embargo (S.491 by Senator Amy Klobuchar (Dem., MN) and S.1543 by Senator Jerry Moran (Rep., KS)) and on four similar bills in the House (H.R.274 by Rep. Bobby Rush (Dem., IL), H.R.403 by Rep. Charles Rangel (Dem., NY), H.R.735 by Rep. Jose Serano (Dem., NY) and H.R.3238 by Rep. Cal Emmer (Rep., MN)).

Most significantly Senator Bob Corker (Rep., TN), the Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said on February 24, 2016, that ending the embargo was…

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Cuba Denounces US Violation of WTO Resolutions

February 27, 2016

NYC Havana Blog

Cuba denounced today the US violations of the resolutions and recommendations of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) issued by the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Cuban ambassador to the United Nations office in Geneva, Anayansi Rodriguez addressed the issue by referring to the dispute “United States-Section 211 of the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 1998.”

Under this Section, the company Cubaexport was refused for many years a specific license to renew the registration of the Havana Club rum brand.

During the regular monthly meeting of the DSB, Rodriguez said the the Section 211 remains in force, unchanged, so the danger of cancellation of registration of the Havana Club trademark remains latent.

She remarked that even more important is the fact that this law prevents US courts recognition of Cuban trademarks and patents.

(Prensa Latina)

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Josefina Vidal: Blockade Against Cuba is Still Rigorously Applied

February 27, 2016

NYC Havana Blog

The Director General of the Department of the United States at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Josefina Vidal denounced today that the United States economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba continues to be applied rigorously.

In her profile of the social network Twitter (@JosefinaVidalF), Vidal reported a new fine by the US executive to a company for doing business with Cuban counterparts, an action that confirms the permanence of that policy, imposed for more than half a century.

The message shared in Spanish and English, leads to an official note of the Cuban Ministry, explaining the details of the latest sanction, the third one so far this year.

This time, the penalized company is Halliburton, a company dedicated to providing services in oilfields.

The penalty amounts to $304.706 USD and according to the report of the Office for Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Treasury Department, it…

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Cuba and USA Talk on Cybersecurity

February 25, 2016

NYC Havana Blog

Imagen de muestra

Cuba and the United States exchanged on the ways to increase the existing bilateral cooperation in cybersecurity, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the island reported.

In a statement, the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the technical meeting between competent authorities from both countries responsible for cybersecurity passed yesterday in an atmosphere of respect and professionalism.

According to the text, the delegations of Cuba and the United States agreed on the importance of advancing in cooperation in this area, and the need to sign bilateral instruments.

The two sides also agreed to continue those technical meetings in the future, alternating the venues.

During the meeting, the Cuban side was made up of representatives of the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while the U.S. side was composed of representatives from the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, and State.

(Prensa Latina)

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Evo Morales: We will continue governing in the interest of the poor and marginalized

February 25, 2016

JSC: Jamaicans in Solidarity with Cuba

Source:  TeleSUR
24 February 2016

evo morales 20.jpgBolivian President Evo Morales | Photo: EFE

Bolivian President Evo Morales acknowledged the country’s national referendum results on Wednesday.

The Bolivian government promised its supporters Wednesday that it would continue to adopt progressive political policies, despite the outcome of the country’s national referendum.

We may have lost a battle, but not the war

“We may have lost a battle, but not the war,” said President Evo Morales, referring to the national referendum results on presidential term limits, which prevents the Bolivian leader from running for reelection in 2019.

RELATED: Evo Morales Won’t Run in 2019, But MAS Will Carry-On

During a press conference Wednesday, President Morales acknowledged the referendum results but promised to continue governing in the “interests of the poor and marginalized.”

Right-wing opposition’s coordinated media campaign

In his speech, Morales accused right-wing opposition groups of launching a coordinated media campaign in efforts to…

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Cuba, EU Normalization Agreement Imminent

February 25, 2016


The two parties sit down for a seventh round of talks next week.

European Union officials are set to resume talks toward normalizing relations with Cuba next week. The EU consulate in Havana reported Tuesday that an agreement is likely to be reached soon.

Representatives for both countries will meet in Havana March 3-4 for a seventh round of talks. These talks will be led by the EU’s Christian Leffer and Cuban deputy foreign minister Abelardo Moreno. The parties have failed to reach a consensus on human rights and trafficking issues in previous talks.

Cuba is calling on the European Union to scrap its two decade-long “common position” mandate, under which Cuba would be required to adopt democratic and economic reforms as a predicate to the restoration of full diplomatic and economic ties. The EU has eased its position on democratic reforms by Castro’s regime, following Havana’s historic July 2015 détente with Washington.

The EU formally expedited processes toward normalizing relations with the island country in mid-2014, after Washington began talks with Cuba. The July agreement between US President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro, the younger brother of the revolutionary Cuban leader Fidel Castro, fully restored US-Cuban diplomatic relations.

Cuba is the only Latin American country without full diplomatic and economic relations with the EU. In 2003, the EU suspended relations following Havana’s efforts to crack down on foreign journalists and activists investigating humanitarian conditions in the island country.

The restoration of ties with leading Western governments is seen by many as a positive step for the dictatorship, a government mired in poverty after decades of trade restrictions and embargoes left the island country resource-strapped.  Some worry, however, that the restoration of relations with leading Western economies may come at a steep cost for the Cuban people, with foreign multinationals likely to profit on cheap labor, pristine natural resources, and tourism.

Cuban relations with the West serve vital security imperatives. The island is a mere 145 kilometers (90 miles) from the US, and, during the Cold War, Soviet-Cuban relations presented a strategic threat. Cuba functioned at the time as a regional hub for possible missile launches against the US. Culminating in the notorious Bay of Pigs fiasco and the Cuban Missile Crisis, these early-1960s incidents chilled American-Cuban relations for over two decades after the dissolution of the Soviet state.

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Liberalizing the Cuban Economy…For Whom?

February 25, 2016

By Manuel E. Yepe

A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.

The coming visit to Cuba, on March 21 and 22, of the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, has the expressed goal of contributing to the process of normalization of relations between the two countries.

But the road to such normalization cannot be undertaken mirroring the model of a situation that existed at some period in the past, because the links between the two sides have never been truly “normal”.

And, in what way could the US oligarchy obtain benefits from the negotiations that are taking place for that purpose in Washington and Havana?

Demands linked to a number of issues have already fallen into complete disrepute. These issues are: human rights (regarding which Cuba shows many accomplishments and the US serious deficiencies); democracy (a term the US foreign policy systematically confuses with capitalism); ties with US enemies (these change constantly because of US foreign policy’s inclination to war); religious intolerance (Cuba is highly regarded for its complete openness to all religions both internally and globally); political fanaticism (Cuban diplomacy enjoys great prestige and has earned outstanding successes in its contributions to conflict resolution in various parts of the world).

Now it appears –at least considering what is reflected by US-controlled or greatly influenced corporate media– that most efforts are focused on demands for the liberalization of the island’s economy to increase its vulnerability to the appetites of Wall Street.

The current slogan, repeated in different ways by these means is “the Cuban government must liberalize its economy in response to every step taken by the United States to partially soften its blockade of the island.”

Derived from this slogan is the warning that “the thaw between Cuba and the United States moves very slowly because of the decision of Havana not to lose control of its economy.”

On other occasions they have used officials or experts linked to the US government to express the claim that the continuation of the easing of sanctions, and some timid steps of the White House to allow exports of some of its products to Cuba –on credit– “will depend on the actions carried out by the Cuban government to liberalize its economy.”

There have also been more categorical demands that “if Cuba does not take steps towards greater openness, both of the economic and political systems, it will be impossible that issues such as the embargo or the Helms-Burton Act are repealed by Congress.”

Or, as bait, offering that if Cuba moves its chips in this regard it will be rewarded, because “then Obama could work wonders before a Congress and a Senate that from January on will have a Republican majority”.

All this leads to the threat that if Cuba wants to get rid of the blockade, it must make the changes demanded by the United States, the think tanks of capitalist thinking and the mass media advocating an economic opening directed to Cuba’s accepting a system of capitalist economy that Cubans rejected in 2011 when –at 163,000 very democratic assemblies– they added, removed or modified a basic text to endorse the roadmap of economic changes within socialism that are being implemented in the most recent period.

For years, the dominant message in the mainstream media indicated that the US blockade was a mere excuse of the Cuban government to hide its economic failure since this had little impact on the economy of the island. Today few dare sustain such a thing, because in just one year of timid measures by Obama, the Cuban economy grew by 4% and became an exception in the region whose GDP –according to the Comisión Económica para América Latina (CEPAL) [Economic Commission for Latin America]– has contracted by 0.4%.

The wisest thing would be for Washington to altogether accept the total failure of its economic war against Cuba and its attempt to reverse the victory of the popular Cuban socialist revolution, in the same way it had to admit defeat in its uneven confrontation against Vietnam four decades ago.

Only that, in this case, they have the possibility of ending its aggression in a civilized way, leaving the door open for a future of mutual respect and eventual reconciliation without the humiliation of having to gather on the roof, as they did in Saigon with low brows of defeat, to board the getaway helicopters.

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