Tuesday, February 28, 2006

US Distrust of Democracy Clear at UN

The US thought they could strong-arm the world into accepting a revamped UN Human Rights Commission based on a neo-con's fantasy. But it appears we're finding ourselves out in the cold in our opposition to a draft set of HRC reforms that's been developed. Bush's aims are clear - to turn the Commission into a tool of US foreign policy. He wants to shrink it (easier to manipulate), and give a minority vote the ability to veto the majority's country selections. The few countries that dare to call out the hypocrisy of the world's most blatant, yet untouchable human rights abuser must never be allowed to be in the discussion (Cuba, Syria, Libya). it's in teresting that no newspaper or anyone cites the hell-holes that are Azerbaijan, Ethiopia, Honduras, Nepal, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Dominican Rep., etc. - where people actually DIE every day do to a lack of regard for human rights (torture, hunger, disease, homelessness).

The problem for the Bush Admin. is that they don't like the results of democracy at the world level (regional nations previously voted to select the Commissions reps.). Too many pesky countries dare challenge our one-sided assumptions. That is why they've already took the voting power away from the regions. But this is not enough, nor is a majority vote in the General Assembly. it must be two-thirds says Bolton. But the world sees the problem as the unethical arm-wringing and blackmailing they see the US engage in over and over again. They don't want might to make right, nor do they understand the waste of effort the US exerts on Cuba every year.

Syria Opposition Rejects US Aid

While some principled Cuban "dissidents" also reject US "aid," most Cubans (and now Venezuelans) see no problem with being called "independent" and receiving funding from the US National Endowment for Democracy [sic]. It is because these peoples and groups (that accept US resources) are specifically doing it for attention - to test the limits and patience of governments who's laws (like nearly every country) forbit such foriegn political meddling. When, oops, they get arrested then the real payoff has begun as the world's media rallies around their cause. But I wonder what the US would do if China was financing anti-Republican activities here?

From the Irish Times
SYRIA: Syria's liberal opposition has said it will not accept a US offer to fund democratic groups in the country, saying its credibility would be damaged if it did.

A group of a dozen parties, known as the Damascus Declaration, said yesterday they had enough resources of their own to press ahead with a campaign to end the 40-year monopoly on power of the Baath party.

"The Damascus Declaration refuses foreign funding, including the $5 million from the US State Department for the Syrian opposition," a statement by the group said. A US State Department official said the money it promised two weeks ago was for "democratic reformers" not opposition or political groups.

Damascus Declaration founding member Hassan Abdel Atheem said: "Our project is nationalist, independent democratic change in Syria, not through occupation or economic pressure as we see the United States doing."

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Conservative Cuban US Naval Counsel Tried to Stop Torture at Guantanamo

The New Yorker has just published a "secret" 22-page memo from the former US Navy General Counsel (top lawyer) recounting his repeated formal objections against the Pentagon's sanctioning of the use of cruelty as a method of interrogation in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Meanwhile the practices cited as torture by the UN this week continue.

UN Report: Cuba Has Lowest Malnutrition in Region

HAVANA, Jan. 31 (Xinhuanet) -- Cuba is the only country in Latin America that has come close to eliminating severe child malnutrition, local media quoted a representative of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) as saying on Tuesday.

Two percent of Cuban children suffer severe malnutrition, a level that the WFP's Myrta Kaulard described as excellent and far from the dramatic malnutrition levels seen elsewhere in the region.

Kaulard said Cuba had nearly eradicated the problem thanks to the measures adopted by the Cuban government and the appropriate use of WFP resources.

The official listed Bolivia, Guatemala and Haiti as the nationswith the highest malnutrition levels in the Latin America and Caribbean region.

Just the fact that relatively poor Cuba is best in Latin America is amazing. But when you factor in the embargo, the lack of international assistance and the droughts the country has endured in recent years - the feat is truly heroic. It shows simply that ending hunger has to do with political committment, not money. But it is Cuba who sits judged for their "committment to human rights."

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Leaked: 2005 State Dept. Grants to Cuba

A Freedom of Information request from researcher Anthony Fenton has yielded previously undisclosed information on 2005 NED (Nat. Endowment of Democracy) Grant monies. The NED has become a critical part of US efforts to undermine leftiist governments around the world. Cuba, particularly seems to be getting an even higher profile.

In total we have at least $7.8 million going to Cuban "dissidents" through State, USAID, and NED. Only $2.7 million is specifically accounted for in these reports but even it is very interesting It appears the US is aiming for more provocation to produce more mercenaries and more arrests. For if the US was serious about the social-cultural literary things they are funding in Cuba, they might think about it in here the US. A sample of the generous US taxpayer funded causes (which does not include hidden funding):

$663,000 for the Directorio (The Cuban Democratic Directorate) - to "establish a short-wave radio station
specializing in programming devoted to community development and community news." This may be the only use of the word community development in the Bush Admin. history.

$175,000 - for the Varela Project reps in Miami... "To support peaceful democratic change in Cuba." Change that the Cuban people (95%+ of them) have already voted to reject.

$62,000 - The non-existent 'Afro-Cuban Alliance' will create a quarterly journal about racial discrimination in Cuba and "...how to organize to bring change." What gall we have. To dress up a dispicable act of blatant political interference like Bush is really concerned about the bringing change to black (and brown) people is just disgusting. (But we will call these sell-outs "independent journalists" for now on.)

$16,00 "to conduct research and analysis on issues of political and economic transitions" with some Slovaks. The Cubans should ask the Slovaks how to avoid the mistakes their rabid right-wing leaders have made in totally sliding socially compared to their Chech brothers.

$67,000 for the fantasticly one-sided "journalists" at CubaNet.

$133,000 to support "independent" librarians and the promotion of them throughout the world, where this whole charade is really aimed. Make no mistake that these folks care about books or information access for the population.

$67,000 to a "dissident" group in Puerto Rico for Guess what, another jounral and website.

And $800,000 more for various others groups - workers, women and more "social and cultural" journals. Don't US social and cultural organizations wish they were so lucky?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Havana for Hipsters

Bolivia: MAS Senator Denied US Entry

Leonida Zurita Vargas, head of Bolivia's National Federation of Women Peasants, talks about the place of the coca leaf in Andean culture, at a Harvard University visit in 2003

UPDATE: Rueters has picked up the story, as have others, since Morales came out protesting the US action today. With more information it appears the visa was revoked (unbeknownst to Vargas) in 2004 after some terrorist "information" about Vargas' speeches was passed to the the Embassy.

It appears the US is not waiting long before extending the foul gamesmanship it routinely plays with Cuban and Venezuelan visa allotment to the nascent Morales government in Bolivia (that is, if you are not going to bash your country, you can't come in). The Bush administration has, at the very last minute, revoked the visa of adjunct Senator Leonida Zurita Vargas, who hails from Cochabamba, Bolivia - for what can only be described as political reasons.

Not one newspaper or blogger cares enough to write about this, but rest assured the people of Bolivia know. If the US wants to push Bolivia towards real anti-Americanism and not just campaign bluster, this is surely a great way to do it.

Check the press release from the Council on Hemispheric Affairs for the full story. Some nuggets include:

Zurita today is among Bolivia’s most prominent female leaders and public figures, and undoubtedly one of the most powerful women in the ruling Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) coalition...

This background would seem to confer substantial prestige on Senator Zurita, yet in her case, dignity and appropriate diplomacy ran afoul of ideology and politics. She had planned to travel to the U.S. for a three week speaking tour.... including speaking appearances at Stanford University, the University of Vermont, and the University of Florida at Gainesville, culminating in a speech at the Kennedy School of Harvard University. This would have made her the first ranking official from the new MAS government to visit the U.S.

Yet when she arrived at the Santa Cruz airport on February 20, she was curtly informed by the American Airline official that her visa had been revoked by order of the U.S. embassy, and that she would not be permitted to travel or would risk facing a $3,000 fine and forced detention. This, despite the fact that until the previously unannounced cancellation, she had held a valid visa and had flown to the U.S. four previous times, most recently to participate in engagements backed by a number of U.S. grass-root movements, including an appearance at Harvard University.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Costa Rica: Election Results Yield Switch

Two weeks after it appeared ex-President Oscar Arias was headed towards victory in the election for Costa Rican President, indications are that the lead has switched. As things stand now the more left-wing, ANTI-CAFTA candidate Otton Solis, is leading by a full percentage point:

From the BBC:
Otton Solis is now leading the presidential contest

Two weeks after Costa Rica's election, there is still no decision on which candidate will be named president.

With 80% of the votes manually recounted, centre-leftist Otton Solis is now leading with 41.4%, while Nobel laureate Oscar Arias has 40.1%.

After the initial count, former President Arias had a lead of less than 0.3% over his rival, one of the closest finishes in Costa Rica's history.

The Supreme Electoral Council has not said when the outcome will be released. But it said it hoped to finish the manual recount by Wednesday. More

Saturday, February 18, 2006

US: Pentagon Pledges to "Fight the Net" and Target Blogs

Rumsfeld announcing sweeping plans to fight the media war with information campaigns that target Internet blogs as well as traditional news outlets.

BBC's #1 headline at the moment is "US Losing Media War to Al-Qaeda." In the US this may be hard to beleive, but it undoubtebly is true to anyone paying attention. In "pro-American" Turkey the biggest movie opening EVER is an "anti-American" screed based on a real event in Iraq, an accidental raid on Turkish special forces. In the rest of the Muslim world, violent protests against the West persist. In recent elections religious parties have won (Hamas, SCRII and Dawa in Iraq, Ahmadinejad in Iran), public opinion against the US is at record low levels....

In this context, the Pentagon has been sendng signals a new information offensive is on the way. A report earlier inthe month called for "fighting the 'net." Then yesterday, Donald Rumsfeld came out with some interesting comments on the Pentagon's view of information and media. Washington and the army must respond faster to events and learn to exploit the internet and satellite TV, he said. He specifically cited BLOGS as a main target of these offensives.

I have a feeling we're not just talking about the Middle East here. Another battle we are losing is the quest to isolate Venezuela and Cuba. Check it out Sec. Rice's pathetic attempt to show Venezuela's Chavez as being one of the biggest concerns in Latin America. Problem is, as Chavez countered, the world sees this for what it is - agression - and that "world opinion is with Venezuela". Don't be suprised if we don't see more US funded "journalists" doing our work on the net and even blogosphere.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Haiti: Ballots Found Burning in Trash

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Reuters) - Haiti's electoral council said on Tuesday it would launch an investigation after burned ballots, many cast a week ago for former president Rene Preval, were found still smoldering in a state dump.

Preval, a one-time ally of ousted president Jean-Bertrand Aristide opposed by the same wealthy elite who helped drive Aristide from power two years ago, said on Tuesday that only "massive fraud" had prevented him from winning a first-round victory in the February 7 election.

A few hours later, reports that hundreds and maybe thousands of ballots had been found discarded in a massive garbage dump in Port-au-Prince rippled through the ranks of Preval supporters, triggering anger and demonstrations after nightfall.

"That's absolutely unacceptable," said Rosemond Pradel, secretary-general of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) charged with organizing the impoverished Caribbean country's presidential election -- the first vote since Aristide was ousted by an armed revolt and international pressure to quit.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

White Sox and Bush in DC Minus Ozzie

Monday, February 13, 2006

Haiti: We Spoke Too Soon?

Two images from Haiti - February 13, 2005

Haiti's hopes for a peaceful election have vanished, as protests erupted across the country in response to alleged fraud. I should not even include that caveat as we already know about the poll shenanigans, which left people unable to vote despite walking 8 miles.

"I walked miles to cast my vote last week, and now these rich people need to respect it," screamed Noel Rolane, a merchant who stood over a burning auto chassis in the Cite Soleil slum.

Then yesterday we had 2 election officials coming forward with claims of witnessing fraud, to get frontrunner (and Aristide ally) Rene Preval below the 50% threshold. Preval stands at 49%, though no one knows much else. Actually, the Post reports Haitian's electoral commission's Web site, which "showed Preval with 49 percent of the vote in a ledger, but 52 percent in a pie graph." More than 1/20 ballots is being disqualified for irregularities, raising further suspicion.

The response has affected all areas of the country, with fire road blocks cutting off transport and commerce. Two Preval supporters were killed (pic above) yesterday when gunshots rained down on a peaceful protest in Tabarre. Eyewitnesses blame the UN, while the UN first denies it fired shots, then says it only fired shots in the air. The main Petitionville (rich area) hotel (where vote results were being announced from) was stormed by protesters, who took a dip in the pool (above) while Desmond Tutu refused to be evacuated by helicopter. They said they came looking for the truth and later left peacefully.

The distant 2nd place finisher (11.8%) Manigat could end all this by withdrawing, but he's said, "I will not withdraw. If Preval doesn't win a majority, it will go into a second round."

The US agrees, with State today emphasizing the need to "respect the results" and not resort to violence. Despite the fact that the only 2 killed were protesters (wearing Preval shirts) everyone knows we meant it is those pro-Preval folks need to calm down. But the US's predominant strategy here is distance. Haiti is not even mentioned as the top 5 issues on the State Dept. homepage - instead we have "US Concerned about (March 19) Belarusian election?!?"

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Haiti: US "Expects" Aristide to Remain in Exile

Supporters of front-runner presidential candidate Rene Preval wave tree branches while passing in front of U.N. armored vehicles

2.10.06 US State Department Briefing on Haiti
QUESTION: Aristide cast a shadow over the election. His presence is always sort of in the background. Now in the past you've been categorical saying he's history, there's no need for him to play any part in Haitian politics. Is that still your position or do you think now with this new government or the vote behind us, he can and -- go back to Haiti?

MR. MCCORMACK: He wasn't on the ballot and he left of his own accord. He asked for assistance from the United States in going to South Africa. That was provided. We now will have a new elected government and we look forward to working with that government and the individuals that will be appointed by the prime minister in Haiti -- the new prime minister in Haiti.

QUESTION: But that's not nearly as categorical as you have been.

MR. MCCORMACK: Like I said, Saul, he wasn't on the ballot and he is in South Africa and I would expect that he would stay there.

QUESTION: The candidate who is largely believed to be the winner, didn't have any clear opposition on Aristide and it seems Aristide could come back. Would you support that?

MR. MCCORMACK: Again, he is not in Haiti. He is in South Africa and we believe that the Haitian people have closed the chapter in this most recent part of Haiti's history.

QUESTION: Well -- but he's actually said that -- he's actually said that he believes that Aristide should be able to come back. Is that something you would fight? Would you be discussing that with the Haitian Government about not letting him back or -

MR. MCCORMACK: We think the Haitian Government should be looking forward to their future, not to its past.

Haiti: Republican US Group Interferes in Haitian Elections

Evidence has been produced by a Freedom of Information Act request by www.freehaiti.net that proves the International Republican Institure (IRI) illegally interfered in the political party politics prior to last week's election in Haiti.

Apparently, the IRI conved "left of center" anti-Lavalas (Aristide) parties, including OPL, PANPRA, KONAKOM, Ayiti Kapab and Marc Levin ("moderaete Lavalas") and was sucessful in convicning them to form a united front vs. Preval. This type of forced hands-holding has become a US sepcialty in Latin American countries. Under the guise of democracy building, US candidate building is being promoted not only by the IRI, but also NED, USAID and others.

This is exactly the type of work going on in Venezuela.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Chavez Offers Friendship to US

The Conservative Voice reports:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced over the weekend that US-Venezuelan "relations could be improved as long as the US government respects Venezuela's sovereignty and rights to self-determination," according to the Venezuelan news service.

President Chavez asked the US government to change its attitude and respect the Venezuelan government so that there could be friendlier relations between the two nations.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Two Cheers for Mexico: Sheraton Closing Over Cuba-US Embargo Row

Members of the Mexican Movement of Solidarity with Cuba block tourists from entering the Sheraton Hotel in Mexico City

Mexico has many failings, but it is certainly a proud nation who deeply values its sovereignty.

After complaints from neighbors, Mexico City officials went to the hotel and found a raft of licensing violations. We'll get a translation of this as soon as possible. They've announced that the hotel will soon be closed and that the local officials have begun the process of revoking the hotel's license to operate. It should be closed in 5 days. From La Opinion, Feb 9th:

Clausurarán el hotel María Isabel Sheraton
La medida obedece a irregularidades operativas y de construcción

UPDATE: The Miami Herald editorial board has sharply criticized the US action in Mexico City in a piece called "The Bad Neighbor"!

The expulsion of Cuban officials from a U.S.-owned hotel in Mexico City at the behest of the U.S. Treasury Department is an incident straight out of the Three Stooges school of diplomacy. A friendly nation has been insulted, U.S. businesses in Mexico are alarmed, and Cuba can once again paint itself as the aggrieved party in its dispute with the United States.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Iran: The Caribbean Connection

We may be entering a new, even dirtier period in US-Venezuela/Cuba politics. On top of our Navy getting caught spying, Rumsfeld comparing Chavez to Hitler, and millions proposed for US TV/radio news transmissions (below) - I sense this Iranian issue may begin to raise its ugly head. Even Tony Blair is getting in the act.

We've been noticing increasingly outlandish statements in the news and blogosphere - ie. false WMD claims and headlines like "Hamas Moves into S. America," "plan war on Israel", and "War Planning?"

The main impetus behind the Iran-Venezuela-Cuba axis stories is the UN vote last week where only these Caribbean countries voted against the IAEA resolution (5 others abstained), defending Iran's right to peaceful technology and wishing to continue talks. Of course, this was a huge vote for the US, and it brought up the necessary pressure.

What (boring) cooperation is actually occurring b/w Venezuela and Iran are things likebuilding oil tankers and cement plants. All the rest about weapons plotting and terrorist footholds in the Americas is weak minded garbage.

What more astute observers realize this is really about is (surprise=OIL). Coincidentally(?), this comes on the heels of word that Chavez has said goodbye to the most profitable company on the plant - Exxon/Mobil - because they alone wouldn't agree to the new terms. These types of things, along with OPEC, are Chavez's real mortal sins.

Veneuzela: More Gains for the People

On Feb. 6, Venezuela President Hugo Chávez officially inaugurated his campaign for reelection to a second six-year term. He bagan by announcing 3 new social programs aimed at improving the condition of Venezuela’s poor.

This comes at the same time it is revealed that the Bush Administration plans to begin illegal transmissions of Voice of America radio and TV broadcasts to Venezuela. Considering how the entire private media in Venezuela is anti-Chavez to one degree or another, the proposal is a complete waste of taxpayer money (this, while Bush wants to cut NPR).

Anyhow, here are some of the benefits that keep on rolling out from revolutionary Venezuela.

1) A 15-percent increase in the minimum wage.

2) The introduction of a $200 a month stipend to poor homemakers. The stipend recognizes that household work is an economic activity that generates wealth. Beneficiaries could quickly rise above half a million. support will be based on their maritial status, how many children they have, their living conditions and already existing levels of family support.

3) $449 million will be spent revamping the National Public Healthcare system under the guidance of Cuban doctors and advisors. Amongst other things the money will be used to buy more than 30,000 pieces of new medical equipment and upgrade hospitals.

Mexico and US Spar After Unlawful Eviction of Cubans

The US-owned Sheraton Hotel in Mexico City, from where a group of Cuban officials meeting with US Oil experts were unlawfully evicted due to pressure from the US Treasury Department. Below are excerpts of the BBC Story:

The authorities in Mexico say a US-owned hotel in Mexico City may have broken the law by expelling a group of Cuban officials.

The delegation was ordered out of the Hotel Maria Isabel Sheraton last week at the behest of Washington, because of the US embargo against Cuba.

Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez said the US law could not be applied in a third country.

Mr Derbez - who a day earlier announced an investigation into the incident - also said the hotel may have broken local laws which ban discrimination. He said the Sheraton chain could be fined up to $500,000.

The office of Mexican President Vicente Fox said on Tuesday that the authorities were looking into the eviction, pledging to "vigorously apply the law" if any wrongdoing was found.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Haiti: How To Start/End a Civil War

UPDATE: I am pleased the election day seems to have turned out well. The real test though, will be when the results are announced. Maybe I was too harsh with my initial rage - at the time polls still had not opened. Maybe Preval can bring peace.

You encourage and assist an opposition that disavows dialogue and instead rampages over the country in the name of democracy. Then rather than truly defend democracy you kidnap their twice elected leader, slum hero President Aristide as the rebels advance. Then you install a leader who does not have the support of 10% of the population and occupy the country with foreign forces for 2 years, while the soldiers and Haitian police kill many hundreds with their wild gunfire in the poor neighborhoods.

Then finally, as election day draws near, you fail to get 300,000 people their voting cards, though most registered properly months in advance. Then you really enrage the slum dwellers, by taking the voting booths OUT of their neighborhoods, where ½ million live, to make them walk miles to the poll. You encourage them to vote early, so they do, walking to the designated polls in far away places. Then, when you get to the polls at 6:00 AM, when they are supposed to be open, you find them closed. You wait in line for 2-3 hours to still find them closed. Lines of thousands of people form. You know the rich arenÂ’t having this problem voting in the hills. You begin to wonder if the widely predicted victory by your man (and Aristide's close ally) Rene Preval can perhaps be stolen with all the trickery you've encoutered thus far.

Cuba: CNN Admits Flags Not Intended to Block Messages

Finally a news organization took on the issue I've been harping about. In a piece by Lucia Newman on CNN Video 2/7/06, she wraps up her report by saying:

"There had been wide speculation that Castro's so-called the surprise project was in fact intended to completely block the US messages. But while the flag park is impressive, it is now clear that the flag park is intended to be more of a symbol than a black out."

I guess someone actually in Havana can tell these things. Still Reuters, the BBC, LA Times, and even CNN (16 hours ago) lead their stories with the blocking angle!

Monday, February 06, 2006

US: Expulsion of Venezuelan Not "Tit for Tat?"

I missed the United States' decision to expel a Venezuelan Embassy Chief of Staff (who usually run things) last week. This for the admitted childish reason that we had to react because WE got caught spying on them, and they kicked out the guilty party, a (lowly) spying Naval Attache. Despite the clear case of spying and blatant inequality of response, the US maintains it did not spy and that "we don't like to get in to tit for tat games."

The naked depravity is on full display with the nice cut-off and non-answer displayed by State Deprt. spokesman Mr. McCormack, from the 2/6 and 2/3 State Dept. Press briefiing:

(2/6) QUESTION: On Venezuela. On Friday you recognize that the expulsion of the Venezuelan diplomatic was a reaction for John Correa. And you even said there was no tit for tat with Venezuela. But at the same time --

MR. MCCORMACK: I said we don't want to -- we don't like to get into tit-for-tat games, but we felt compelled to respond to Venezuela's action.

(2/3)QUESTION: How was this particular diplomat chosen in terms of -- is this a comparable -- duties or position that she does that this gentleman in Caracas was --

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, this one was chosen from among the Venezuelan Embassy staff. I would just note only that Mr. -- Commander Correa was a U.S. -- was a Naval attaché. And she, I understand, performs the function of chief of staff to the ambassador, so they're two different jobs.

QUESTION: So again, why her?

MR. MCCORMACK: She was chosen -- we believe that she is the appropriate person. Look, we don't like to get into tit-for-tat games like this with the Venezuelan Government but they initiated this and we were forced to respond.

QUESTION: You said she's chief of staff to the ambassador?

MR. MCCORMACK: I believe that's her function at the embassy.

QUESTION: So you say we were forced to respond?

MR. MCCORMACK: We were forced to respond, yeah.

QUESTION: Why is that?

MR. MCCORMACK: Because the Venezuelan Government declared Commander Correa persona non grata and we felt compelled to respond.

QUESTION: But there are not charges against her are there? Are there charges against her?

MR. MCCORMACK: No. She was declared persona non grata. I'm not aware of any charges against her.

QUESTION: You're not alleging any inappropriate activities in her performance and her duties?

MR. MCCORMACK: I am simply saying that we have declared her persona non grata, Charlie.

Cuba: You Don't Know Mr. Miami Terrorist #1 Orlando Bosch?

Family members of victims to US terrorism mourn under 138 black flags, one for every year since the Cuban independence in 1868.

In case anyone reading this doesn't know what the heck I am talking about with this Bush connection to the Miami Cuban exile terrorist thing, consider these excerpts from a 2002 UK Guardian article, citing a pretty good book I just finished: Cuba Confidential: Love and Vengeance in Miami and Havana, by (no Fidel lover) Ann Louise Bardach.

During the War on Terrorism, Jeb Bush, has been instrumental in securing the release from prison of militant Cuban exiles convicted of terrorist offences.

Jeb Bush hired a Cuban ex-CIA agent and ex-con (embezzlement) Camilo Padreda, to be his campaign's finance chairman, only to see him get caught bilking the Fed's (HUD).

Later Jeb was on the payroll of someone had earlier assisted the CIA in Castro assassination attempts. He was paid $75,000 for consulting on a real estate move that never even happened. "I want to be very wealthy," Jeb Bush told the Miami News when questioned during that period.

Most controversially, at the request of Jeb, Mr Bush Sr intervened to release the convicted Cuban terrorist Orlando Bosch from prison and then granted him US residency. According to the justice department in George Bush Sr's administration, Bosch had participated in more than 30 terrorist acts. He was convicted of firing a rocket into a Polish ship which was on passage to Cuba. He was also implicated in the 1976 blowing-up of a Cubana plane flying to Havana from Venezuela in which all 73 civilians on board were killed.

Bosch's release, often referred to in the US media as a pardon, was the result of pressure brought by hardline Cubans in Miami, with Jeb Bush serving as their point man.

In July this year, Jeb Bush nominated Raoul Cantero, the grandson of Batista, as a Florida supreme court judge despite his lack of experience. Mr Cantero had previously represented Bosch and acted as his spokesman, once describing Bosch on Miami radio as a "great Cuban patriot".

Other Cuban exiles involved in terrorist acts, Jose Dionisio Suarez and Virgilio Paz Romero, who carried out the 1976 assassination of the Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier in Washington, have also been released by the current Bush administration.

Cuba Responds to US Ticker with Homage to Terror Victims

Cubans hold photographs of countymen killed by acts of US sponsored terrorism as black flags wave outside the U.S Interests Section in Havana.

It is up and it what a solemnly meaningful piece of work it is! After a week of waiting anxiously, Cuban President Fidel Castro unveiled one by one dozens of black flags with a single white "Marti" star - a reminder of the 3,000 victims to terrorism Cuba has lost in its 46-year battle with US sponsored and financed terrorism. The black a reminder of the continuing actions by the US that are at odds with its hypocritical crusade against terror. That of course being the imminent release of Luis Posada Carilles, the Hemisphere's biggest terrorist and the continued detainment of the Cuban 5 - 5 brave men who infiltrated Miami's exile terrorist world to defend their homeland against aggression.

Of course, the mainstream US press keeps finding ways to make this about "blocking" the US' electronic ticker. This despite them actually knowing that they are lying when they write that. If it was "designed" to block, why doesn't it do the job from all but maybe 5% of vantage points, including the most critical - from the Malecon? They story just sounded too good for Us journos to leave such fantasies out apparently.

Fidel Castro Honors Victims of Terrorism
Havana, Feb 6 (Prensa Latina) Cuban President Fidel Castro honors an homage to the victims of terrorism on the Island at the Jose Marti Anti-imperialist Plaza.

The homage also gathers victims of these crimes, their relatives and the people who chose the plaza across the US Interest Sections in Havana following a record enlargement.

In short press release the homage has been described as a tribute and denounce of the pain inflicted by the loss of more than 3,000 nationals killed in US financed criminal terrorist actions.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

U. of Miami Predicts Cuban Transition Post-Castro "Quick and Easy"

Last year the US Government shelled out $1 million to the U. of Miami Cuban Studies Dept. to plan for the coming "transition" in Cuba. Trouble is they came back and reported that there will be NO real "transition" in Cuba post-Castro.

In a facinating first-hour "war game type" scenario they had Raul Castro clumbsily assuming power, firing (Assembly President) Richard Alacron and arrresting all the "dissidents" - but still the Revolutionary system survives. They were clear with their main prediction: when Castro leaves or dies a stable, "quick and easy" post-Castro transition is virtaully assured.

"Too many people assume that when Fidel dies, the system is going to immediately collapse. We don't anticipate that..." said Jaime Suchlicki, director of UM's Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies.

On Raul Casto: "He is not charismatic and, by and large, the Cuban people don't like him. But he is a very skilled organizer. He has run the armed forces for 47 years. This is the most successful military of any Third World country for many years. . . . Fidel would have never lasted this long without his brother. Raúl is underestimated in Miami."

Cuban leaders were aghast at this common sense. Miami Republican Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart called the exercise an "academic justification for a lack of pressure for a democratic transition.''It really shows how out of touch they are if they think Cubans are going to embrace the "dissident movement" and exile leaders.

However, if there was any doubt the Miami analysts were on the wrong team, the project leader made clear his allegiances and preference for instability and violence: "None of us want what we discussed here,'' Suchlicki said. "It's the most likely scenario, but it's not what we wish for." 'We're just offering a reality check.'' INDEED

US-Cuba Oil Meetings in Mexico Proceed: US Interested

Dangerously straightforward honest journalism from the Houston Chronicle on the US-Cuba oil meetings that went on despite Bush's interference in Mexico City (below). Excerpts:

"There is a market in Cuba; these people have cash, and they are willing and able to pay the bills," said Dane Revette, an energy-industry director with the Louisiana governor's office. "U.S. companies need to find a way to get there."

Cuba produces 75,000 barrels of oil daily, meeting half of the country's demand, according to Tenreyro of Cupet... "Cuba has heavy oil, but we are positioned to find lighter oil in the heavy oil belt." Much of the remaining demand is filled by imports from Venezuela. Cuba's reserves are estimated at 3 billion barrels. Cuba is planning to drill more than 40 wells a year beginning in 2006, Tenreyro said.

Some U.S. companies have found a way to introduce products to Cuba. Caterpillar Corp. has donated equipment to the country, said Mark Smalley, Caterpillar sales agent. "We've studied the law in order to make our humanitarian donation, and we know no one was breaking it by meeting here," Smalley said. "This is evidence that the U.S. government needs to be more compassionate."

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Mexico City: Cuba-US Meeting on OIl Disrupted by US

In another sign of the tightening enforcement of the illegal and immoral embargo on Cuba, the US forced a Mexico City Sheraton hotel to expel Cuban oil experts from the premises, at the beginning of a meeting between US companies interested in Cuban oil prospects.

As no one can remember a similar case of Cubans being kicked out of any hotel in any part of the world due to US pressure, it appears the US was particularly upset at the possibility of US companies seeking involvement in the burgeoning Cuban oil sector (where Spanish, Canadian, Indian and Norweigen companies already are at work).

This comes, of course, on the heels of Bush's State of the Union address which rejected isolationism and promised new steps to ease US reliance on Middle Eastern oil. Cuba's oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico have just begun being explored, but early results were promising last year.

On the day, Cuban officials announced plans to double their drilling capacity and explore for oil in the waters off the Caribbean island. But U.S. corporations, their hands tied by the embargo, have been forced to watch the flurry of activity taking place less than 60 miles off the coast of Florida.

Oilmen Meet With Cubans in Mexico, but U.S. Intervenes
February 4, 2006 - THE NEW YORK TIMES

...The request was made by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign
Assets Control, which told Starwood Hotels, the owner of the Sheraton
Maria Isabel in Mexico City, that American law prohibited it from
supplying services to Cuban individuals or companies.
The move is the
latest in what seems be a hardening by the Bush administration of the
45-year trade embargo against Cuba...

Raul Perez, who led the 16-member Cuban delegation sent to the meeting, said they were asked to leave the Sheraton without a refund.

"It's outrageous that I, as an American citizen, can't go and talk to
someone on Mexican soil," said Kirby Jones, a former World Bank
official and the organizer of the meeting for the U.S.-Cuba Trade
Association, a nonprofit group in Washington.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Rumsfeld Comparasion of Chavez to Hitler Gets a Yawn

How many stories have been blown out of proportion because someone slipped in a Hitler reference? How many headlines have read "___compares ____ to Hitler" It is a good headline (see above), the kind that would normally get a mention on Drudgereport (oh my god, I swear i didn't plan this but they currently are leading with "NAACP Chair compares GOP to Nazis") and get sent around the blogosphere. Usually it is a lefty slinging mud a a Republican and its significance lies in its absurdity, though normally if you read closely, the Hitler reference is oblique or tangential.

Today we had an actual case of the top US Military Official making direct comparisons of someone who has killed no one to Hitler, yet media editors opted to just slip the quote into the story or ran innocuous headlines like: "Rumsfeld says Chavez rise 'worrisome'. So is Chavez just worrisome or is he a murderous racist homophobic maniac?

The timing of this sure-fire news stealing rhetoric just happened to appear at the time our Government's military spy was being expelled from Venezuela. The US denies wrongdoing. Meanwhile, John Negroponte (Dir of National Intel.), was in front of the Senate telling more lies about Chavez - that Chavez was seeking closer economic and military ties with (Iran and) North Korea, while meddling in the internal affairs of neighboring countries. At least the NYTimes noted that "Little, if anything, has ever been publicly raised about ties to North Korea, and Mr. Negroponte did not offer evidence." No evidence of interference in Latin America has ever surfaced despite the hype either.

The Rumsfeld quote: "You've got Chavez in Venezuela with a lot of oil money," he said. "He's a person who was elected legally just as Adolf Hitler was elected legally." "And then (he) has consolidated power. And now of course is working closely with Fidel Castro and Mr. Morales and others."