miércoles, 23 de noviembre de 2011

Alan Gross’ release is not convenient for some people in U.S.

By M. H. Lagarde

Cuban extreme right, based in U.S., takes advantage of every opportunity to hinder any attempt to improve U.S. relations with the Caribbean island. This group does everything to maintain an environment of bilateral tension and confrontation. Therefore, they benefit in the political and the economic field. It has happened in the last 50 years.
The American Jewish community is now suffering this situation. This community is concerned about giving humanitarian solution to the American contractor Alan Gross, arrested and condemned to 15-year imprisonment for carrying out actions against Cuba’s national security and integrity.
During the first vigil organized by this community before the Cuban diplomatic mission to United Nations to ask for Gross’ release, the presence of Cuban-born individuals became evident. Some of them have a large, known experience and links with violent and terrorist actions against Cuba. Images and reports of the vigil broadcasted by different press outlets showed “hidden” in the crowd people like José A. Gutierrez Solana —secretary of Union of Cuban Former Political Prisoners, North Zone, and closed friend of self-confessed terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, and Senator Bob Menéndez—, boasts about his participation in the bombings of shopping, recreational centers, and other public places in Cuba unrelated to military targets and facilities. Solana, after migrating to U.S., has aided in the organization and financing of violent actions promoted by Posada Carriles and other notorious terrorists who call themselves “fighters for the freedom of Cuba.”
It is significant the presence of these terrorists in a Jewish vigil. The leaders of such community have repeatedly stated the mainly humanitarian purposes of these actions and their positions against any kind of politicization on the subject. It would be foolish to think that these terrorists could be interested in the solution of Alan Gross’ case. Indeed, it would also deprive them of one of the issues used to justify and keeps the status quo in the bilateral relation between Cuba and U.S.
The same happens with Cuban-born legislators like Representative Ileana Ross and Senators Marcos Rubio and Robert Menéndez, who are carrying out threatens and pressures against the State Department and the White House to hinder any possible dialogue and negotiation with Cuba that could lead to a humanitarian solution in Gross’ situation.
In recent days, Sen. Mark Rubio, also known as one of the prodigal sons of ultraconservative Tea Party movement, sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in which he threatened to veto Roberta Jacobson’s confirmation by the Senate as a new U.S. head of diplomacy for Latin America, until Clinton explains whether there have been negotiations with Havana on the contractor’s issue, and that the Administration publicly commits not to negotiate any agreement to secure Alan Gross’ release.
The absurd pressures of these Congressmen and Senators from Florida and New Jersey, and the policy toward Cuba they defend, far from helping to find solutions, strain the environment to find a solution to this problem.

Cubasi Translation Staff

sábado, 13 de agosto de 2011

Harper can't ignore Cuba

By Peter McKenna, Ottawa Citizen

 As Prime Minister Stephen Harper visits powerhouse Brazil and the tiny Central American country of Costa Rica - which shares a bilateral free trade agreement with us - he shies away from the less ideologically acceptable countries of Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua.
But at a time when Harper claims to be pursuing an invigorated policy toward Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), he is ignoring Canada's natural advantages in Cuba - one of the region's most important countries. Needless to say, this doesn't make any foreign policy sense.
Significantly, Canadian-Cuban relations during the Harper years have suffered and now appear to be locked in a diplomatic holding pattern. To an outside observer, it looks as if a neo-conservative ideology, supported by lethargy in the Pearson Building in Ottawa, has taken the place of pragmatism and common sense.
Put simply, official Canadian policy toward Cuba is now curiously mimicking the failed U.S. approach of the former George W. Bush presidency - precisely when the Barack Obama administration is initiating a more moderate and more practical Cuba policy.
To begin, the prime minister and the mandarinate seem unaware of Cuba's importance in the region. For example, there are more than 30,000 Cuban health professionals now working throughout the Americas (more than all of the G8 countries combined). Additionally, Cuba is the elected leader of the 118-nation Non-Aligned Movement, was elected to the UN Human Rights Council with the support of 135 nations (five more than Canada), and was elected to be a member of the Rio Group of nations at a Latin American and Caribbean summit (to which Canada and the United States were conspicuously not invited).
As a symbol of its international support, the October 2010 UN General Assembly vote condemning the U.S. trade embargo (187-2) spoke volumes about Cuba's international legitimacy and world standing.
Cuba, in sum, punches far above its international weight class. It has full diplomatic relations with almost every country in the Americas, and has hosted a slew of presidential visits over the last two years. Even Mexico's foreign secretary found time to visit Havana in 2010. Why then has Canada not even sent its foreign affairs minister to visit Cuba in more than a decade?
We should also remember that Canada has an enviable position in Cuba: two-way trade exceeds $1.5 billion, more than 900,000 Canadian tourists visit annually, Toronto-based Sherritt International is the largest single foreign investor in the country, and Ottawa has had a long and storied relationship with the island.
Most Cubans recall fondly that the only countries in the Western hemisphere not to break diplomatic ties with Cuba in the early 1960s were Canada and Mexico. And, no less important, the Cubans respect us enormously - as is symbolized by the two million Cubans who participate annually in the Terry Fox run. Yet the Harper government has consistently ignored that goodwill and neglected the bilateral relationship's huge potential.
Curiously, the Obama White House is moving to tap whatever potential exists. To be sure, U.S. food exports to Cuba have increased to more than $710 million U.S. in 2010, and have already surpassed Canadian exports to the island. Obama himself has also moved to improve the terms of travel for Cuban-Americans, increased the number of U.S. airports offering charter flights to Cuba, and permitted cash remittances to Cuba to increase markedly.
The Canadian government's approach to Cuba, by comparison, is out of sync. The Harper government is spurning our natural advantages, needlessly sharpening its rhetoric, and pursuing a (failed) policy similar to that of the former Bush administration - all at a time when the Obama presidency is looking to change the tenor of U.S.-Cuba relations. Regrettably, Ottawa doesn't seem to be aware of what is happening on the Cuba file. More important, if the Harper government does not revitalize our engagement policy with the Cubans, Canada faces the very real prospect of jeopardizing its long-standing bilateral advantages and ceding those to the United States and others (including the Chinese).
Finally, the key to Canada actually opening the door to the wider hemisphere is clearly not through Costa Rica, but by fostering closer relations with Havana. But if we fail to cultivate closer ties with the Cubans, our vaunted "Americas Strategy" is necessarily doomed to failure.
Peter McKenna is professor of political studies at the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown and the co-author of Canada-Cuba Relations: the Other Good Neighbor Policy.

lunes, 8 de agosto de 2011

The Cuban Five and the US Supreme Court

By Arnold August

Talking about Supreme Court, how about a little history. On June 15, 2009 the US Supreme Court announced its decision to reject the request for a revision of the Cuban Five case. This demand for a review was carried out by millions of people from all walks of life around the world, a record number of “Friends of the Court” petitions and thousands of personalities and elected officials from every continent. Many of these pleas also came from within the USA itself.
The US brags about its political systems as being based on the separation of powers between the Executive (President and Vice-President), the Legislature and the Judiciary and a resulting built-in checks and balances system. This is supposedly a superior form of democracy based on checks and balances to avoid abuse of power by one or the other of the three branches forming the US government. In the US Constitution Article II Section 2 states that the US president has “the power to grant reprieves and pardons...” Every indication is that President Obama, far from using his constitutional powers to free the Cuban Five, made it clear to the Supreme Court judges that they should rule against revision.
This has obviously been a political case right from day one. It is even further revealed by the Supreme Court’s decision and the shameless refusal of the judges to publicly explain to the world the basis of their ruling. Of course the judges are not obliged to divulge it according to the American legal system. However, in a case such as this one which the whole world and many governments are watching, a public explanation was necessary. We are perhaps witnessing one of the greatest ironies in the current international political scene. The Cuban Five are cruelly and politically persecuted for their peaceful anti-terrorist motivations and activities. The reason? They are acting on behalf of and supporting the Cuban government. One of the main charges that Washington levies against Cuba is lack of democracy, that it is does not, amongst other characteristics exhibit a political system similar to the American one which would include checks and balances. The Cuban system is in fact one unified revolutionary peoples’ political power, from the top down and from the bottom up including the judiciary, each enjoying its own respective fields of competence. The relationship and inter-action of all the different Cuban state levels between themselves including the judiciary and all of these institutions in turn with the citizens, is a feature of the Cuban type of democracy. There is no need to get into a debate as to whether the Cuban system is more democratic than the American model. However, if one takes into account this latest Supreme Court episode of US democracy in action on the one hand and my direct experience and study of the Cuban political system on the other hand, Cuba has no “democracy” lessons to take at all from the USA.

domingo, 7 de agosto de 2011

Gross: What Happened Between March and August?

by Arnold August

On August fifth it was announced that the fifteen­-year sentence arising out of the March fourth Provincial Court trial against Alan Gross, a US AID contractor, was upheld by the Cuban Supreme Court. The American citizen appealed the decision of the Provincial Court in Cuba's highest level of the judiciary on June 22, the result of which was made public on August fifth.
Regarding this issue, since March fourth to date the international media, especially based in Miami, Washington and Madrid, are concentrating on Havana, the Gross trials and legal challenges.
For those who may be puzzled by the Supreme Court decision, it would be useful to examine briefly what has happened in the United States — not Cuba — between March fourth to date in order to perhaps shed some light onto the Supreme Court's confirmation of the lower court's resolution. In this five-month period, the Obama Administration has on many occasions repeated its policy of interfering in the internal affairs of Cuba under the guise of "democracy promotion".  For example, the Congress has recently ratified once again the decision to spend 20$ million in the next year explicitly dedicated to subversion in Cuba, including the type of activities that Gross had carried out and for which he has been arrested, tried, found guilty and sentenced. On many occasions the Obama Administration in collaboration with their mercenaries on and off the island did not reduce, but rather reinforced, their provocative activities against the sovereignty of Cuba, one of the legal principles violated by Gross as a US agent contractor.
While Obama visited Chile on March 21, 2011, not long after the original trial and sentencing of Gross, the US President spoke about the need to defend "democracy and human rights within our  borders [USA and Chile], let us recommit to defending them across our hemisphere.... And yes, that includes the people of Cuba."
How do readers think that the Cuban government and judiciary had taken this? By adding insult to injury, Obama stated in an interview to a Chilean newspaper as a prelude to his visit to Santiago de Chile that "The Chilean experience, and more particularly its successful transition to democracy and its sustained, growing economy, is a model for the region and the world."
When the news was released on August fifth regarding the Cuban Supreme Court decision, it was the same day that those  of us who follow the news through Telesúr and other alternative media were able to bear witness to how the Chilean police violently attacked the students and professors demanding education, economic and political rights. There were according to official sources 874 arrests and hundreds wounded. Is this the example that Obama meant of Chile being a model of democracy and economic development for Cuba? The scenes of Chilean state brutality resembled more the emblematic steps (Escalinata) of the University of Havana before the January 1, 1959 Triumph of the Revolution, when the US-backed Batista dictatorship unleashed their forces so many times against the youth, professors and workers. Many students were killed in these assaults in Havana, but so far at the time of writing in any case, there has been no deaths in Chile during the course of the current confrontations.
Despite the demands to Obama from around the world declared by Nobel Prize winners, individual parliamentarians, parliaments and personalities for the release of the Cuban Five, what has Obama done between March fourth and today? He has done nothing, and we are heading into a most crucial period for the soon-to-be concluded Habeus Corpus process for Gerardo Hernández Nodelo, with nothing yet positive in sight at this time. The Cuban Five are imprisoned since 1998 because they attempted to curb US-backed terrorist interference in the internal affairs of Cuba.
Given all these provocations and  repeated confirmations from the White House and the US Congress that they have every intention to continue their program of attempting to subvert Cuba's constitutional order, how else can the Cuban government and judicial authorities react? They have no choice but to make it clear that they will continue to defend their sovereignty as it is the right of every country to do so, big or small.
Alan Gross and his family should blame their own government for their predicament. The White House got him into it in the first place. By carrying out the same policies against Cuba since March fourth to date, it has given no reason for the Cuban judiciary to decide otherwise.

lunes, 11 de julio de 2011

U.S.A. manipulates “defection” of Cuban dentists

By M. H. Lagarde

Hundreds of Cuban dentists, invited to defect by the U.S. government from medical missions that bring health to thousands of people worldwide, suffer the same fate of many other “refugee” doctors in that country. After reaching U.S. soil, where they are "welcomed", supposedly because of their professional expertise, they can not pursue their occupation.
According to a libelous article in Miami mafia’s El Nuevo Herald, about 200 dentists who have defected from Cuban internationalist missions can not revalidate their degrees in the U.S. because the Cuban authorities refuse to send the academic records, said Julio Alfonso, CEO of Solidarity without Borders (SSF).
“Solidarity-man” Alfonso says now that the Educational Credential Evaluators (ECE), a Wisconsin organization that provides professional certification, will only accept academic records submitted by Cuba, something recruiters never told dentists.
"These dentists are facing an ironical situation," Alfonso criticized in the SSF office in Hialeah. "They defected from the missions to qualify for the U.S. visa program for medical personnel, but once they enter the United States they face reality as it actually is because they can not revalidate their degrees."
What is the real irony? That of Cuba opposed to the shameless brain drain and defamation of its health system organized by the U.S. intelligence services, or that of the U.S. government closing the doors to emigration to the rest of the world while inciting defection of Cuban doctors and dentists based on an unrecognized professional competence.
Now, Cuban cheated doctors and dentists are struggling to make a living in Miami. Such is the case of Dasha Frías —a dentist graduated from the Higher Dentistry Institute of Medical Sciences in Villa Clara— who after defecting from a mission in the state of Anzoategui, northeastern Venezuela in 2009, came to Miami and is currently working as a cashier at the Miccosukee Casino.

miércoles, 6 de abril de 2011

The PADF against Cuba: Another Link of the Swindle to North American Taxpayers

By: M. H. Lagarde

According with a series of accusations that for several weeks broadcast Cuban television under the title Cuba’s Reasons, besides the Pontis Foundation, other organizations, and NGOs working as covers for the CIA afford to waste the money of North American taxpayers in the fruitless attempt of driving a change in the Island in favor of the interests of Washington’s government.
One of those “institutions” is the Pan-American Development Foundation (PADF), an organization where the CIA, the North American government, and large capitals hold hands when financing the counterrevolution in Cuba, especially through the USAID.
Several investigators assure that the PADF PADF, "created in the United States back in 1962 through a unique cooperation agreement between the Organization of American States (OAS) and the private sector", receives funds from an extensive list of institutions, organizations, and monopolizing companies among which appear the USAID, the World Bank, Chevron Corporation, Citigroup, The Hampshire Foundation, and Phillip Morris International.
According to the website Cuba Money Project the PADF has been benefited more than once by the funds the USAID dedicates to finance the so-called Cuban dissidence.
In year 2007, of a total of 13.3 million dollars distributed by the USAID, the PADF signed a contract for 2.3 million dollars to support the domestic counterrevolution in Cuba; and in the 2009, from an assigned budget of 15 620 000 million dollars, the PADF received 3 million dollars through the signing of two contracts for similar destabilizing purposes in Cuba. One of them, of 2 million dollars and the other of a million dollars.


In the case of Cuba, the organization that in 2009 also participated in the legitimizing of the “elections” of the golpists government imposed by the United States in Honduras, has acted through agents like the Peruvian-North American Marc Wachtenheim.
The former director of the Initiative of Development for Cuba of this foundation, Marc Wachtenheim has had an ample participation in carrying out actions against the Cuban revolution and in several occasions has visited Cuba with the objective of facilitating and assuring the delivery of material and financial support to members of the domestic counterrevolution, as well as to obtain information on different aspects of the Cuban reality.
Violating the very North American laws established by the criminal blockade that for half century the United States imposes to the Island, Wachtenheim visited Cuba five times between 2002 and 2009, and in four of those opportunities he used a tourist visa.
In June 2002, the former PADF employee justified his arrival to Cuba coming from Jamaica as individual tourism. Something similar he did in February 2004 and five years later, in February 2009 and November of that same year, always coming from Mexico.
Among the main goals of this character were facilitating the Cuban counterrevolution state-of-the-art technology like blackberries, laptops, Bgan, and other technological devices, dedicated to be used in subversive actions against the Cuban Revolution.
According with the accusation made by the Cuban writer Raul Capote, recruited by the CIA but, in reality a double agent of the Cuban State Security, in the chapter of Cuba’s Reasons “Creating a Leader”, the equipment introduced in Cuba by Marc Wachtenhein’s emissaries was aimed at carrying out espionage tasks in favor of the U.S. government.


After resigning, due to financial problems, his position at the PADF, Marc Wachtenheim, currently presiding over the Center for Advancement of Freedom and Democracy, organization created by him and that supposedly holds similar objectives to those of PADF: “to promote freedom and democracy in Latin America”, which, as everybody knows, equals to oppose every last existing movement in the region that doesn't respond to the North American interests, as it’s the case of the progressive governments of Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Cuba.
The methods used by the former PADF employee, in his supposed crusade in favor of “freedom and democracy”, leaves no doubts of his relationship with intelligence services like the CIA. Likewise, almost no one doubts anymore that foundations like Pontis from the Czech Republic, the PADF or the very Center for Advancement of Freedom and Democracy wastes at full hands, in the futile attempt of overthrowing the Cuban Revolution, the money of North American taxpayers.
As recently affirmed by the influential chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, John Kerry, on the last 20 million dollars budgeted by the USAID to promote the democracy in Cuba: “There is no evidence that the 'programs of promotion of the democracy' that cost American taxpayers so far more than 150 million dollars, help the Cuban people".

lunes, 21 de marzo de 2011

PONTIS Foundation and the swindling of American taxpayers in Cuba

The PONTIS man in Cuba, the mercenary and cheater Francisco Chaviano Gonzalez (far right) with Lowell Dale Lawton  USIS Second Political-Economic Secretary. (Photo: Aday del Sol)
By M. H. Lagarde

From 1960, when U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered that it was necessary to hide the U.S. "hands" from the attacks against Cuba, until the "Report of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba" , also known as the Bush Plan, which states that it must be increased: "direct efforts with governments of third countries willing to develop a strong and pro-active policy to support civil society in Cuba, including the "opposition" and develop a policy framework for assistance to "post-dictatorship" Cuba, eleven U.S.administrations have used NGOs, mainly from European countries, as a cover for the its intelligence work.
The strategy of throwing bombs and hiding the hands, used by the United States against Cuba for half a century, intends mainly, despite of covering U.S. participation, to expand covert channels through which the U.S. may promote opposition groups and so they try to give an image that the condemnation against the revolution is not only a matter of Washington but a claim of the international community.
Much of the NGOs, using American taxpayer money for subversion in the Island, are located in former socialist countries of Eastern Europe, which, in payment for their lackey roles, expect imperial support to fit into the European politico-military framework (EU and NATO).
As recently denounced in the documentary broadcasted by the Cuban television, "Reasons of Cuba: Well Paid Lies", among the NGO resided in third countries that receive money from the USAID, or from organizations masquerading the CIA - like the Freedom House and the NED - to carry out anti-Cuban actions outstand the Slovak PONTIS Foundation which develops subversive projects in countries like Belarus, and Cuba. Since its appearance after the fall of the socialist field, and in the context of the so-called Colors Revolutions, PONTIS has established close relationships with North American institutions to promote actions of "changes of régime in countries with tyrannical governments" in those countries that refuse to be subordinated to the world dictatorship led by the North American government.
In Cuba's specific case, PONTIS has collaborated with other NGO from East Europe like People in Need and People in Peril, also Slovak, as well as with the International Committee for the Democracy in Cuba, an organization created and financed by the Republican International Institute (RII) presides over John McCain.   
Both the RII and the USAID are the main contributors of PONTIS. Only between October 2008 and September 2009, the Slovak foundation received 108 million dollars dedicated to offer help to the internal counterrevolution in Cuba.   

Supposedly the money of the North American taxpayers facilitated by the RII and the USAID will help to overthrow the Cuban Revolution through supporting actions to counterrevolutionary prisoners, to facilitate the secret entrance to the Island of materials to train in Cuba the mercenaries in what they call "periods of transition", to offer them material and technical support to the domestic counterrevolution, especially the "political prisoners" and encourage support actions to the so-called "dissident" in East Europe.
According to some investigators, one of the main interests of the USAID is to use PONTIS Foundation as a promoter in Cuba of the so-called "color revolutions" and counts for that with characters of the moral class of Francisco Chaviano Gonzalez who, according to IRI's program that subventions PONTIS, is the leader of a counterrevolutionary organization called Liberal Unity of the Republic of Cuba that gathers a group of 17 organizations.

The deceit of such an assertion -those organizations only exist in the head of cheater Francisco Chaviano-, gives a clear idea about the real destination
that the IRI and the USAID make of the US taxpayer's money. As Jonathan Farrar, current Chief of Mission of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, wrote in one of the cables recently revealed by Wikileaks:

"That said, we see very little evidence that the mainline dissident organizations have much resonance among ordinary Cubans. Informal polls we have carried out among visa and refugee applicants have shown virtually no awareness of dissident personalities or agendas. Judging from the reactions we have heard from our dissident contacts, the most painful accusation made by the commentators was that the dissidents are old and out of touch. (...)
Many of the leaders of the dissident movement are indeed comparatively old. Long-time dissidents XXXXXXXXXXXX are in their 60s. Others such as Francisco Chaviano and wife Ana Aguililla, Rene Gomez Manzano and Oswaldo Paya are well into their 50s. (...) "When we ask opposition leaders about their programs, we do not see platforms designed to appeal to a broad cross section of Cuban society. Rather, their greatest effort is directed at obtaining enough resources to keep the main organizers and their key supporters living from day to day".

Not even water is as clear.