Apr 28, 2009

Abortion and Population Decline in Cuba (Updated)

The Cuban regime is reportedly providing the population with methods for aborting in the convenience of their homes and with no intermediary other than a pill.

Who is being aborted? Might more than a few of these be children conceived 'accidentally' through sex with tourists?

Thus the regime offers tourists hotels, meals, transportation and for entertainment, well, sex with prostituted Cuban adolescents remedied through a private, easy, do-it-yourself abortion. That's 5 sources of income. Multiply that by 2 million tourists (or 4 if some US Citizens get their 'right'). How's that for productivity?

What a deal.

According to the Wall Street Journal's Marketwatch the Cuban regime has reported that it's population shrank by 700 thousand in 2008, about 6%, and for the third consecutive year. The Latin American Herald Tribune has also reported the accelarated decline. In another report, Cubaencuentro.com, a Spain based news website, contradicts both of the former by a substantial margin, reporting a decline of only 7,737 inhabitants.

How they could have arrived at such different figures is a story in itself given they all claim the Cuban regime's media as their source.

At the higher rate, Cuba's population will be diminished to its pre-Castro coup 1959 level in 7 years; the number of Cubans in exile will have surpassed those in Cuba in around 11; and the Castro tyranny's captive slave force will have become extinct in 15. Conceivably he will then be 97 and utterly alone, with not one Cuban left to enslave, imprison or execute; and Cubans in Cuba gone.

Socialism or death? If the larger rate is true it appears as if death will have won. Castro's post-revolutionary coup will have proven itself evolution's enemy or as Christians would put it, it will have been decisIvely condemned for attempting to subvert God's plan for man.
While pópulation is decreasing in Cuba, support for abortion in the United States has significantly dropped. According to Pew Research the number in the US who believe abortion should be legal dropped from 54% to 46%; in men from 53% to 43% and in women from 54% to 49%. The drop occurred between August 2008 and April 2009.

Increasing recognition of the rights of a human in an embryonic stage is very good news for the United States. Evidently the nation is moving towards a more complete grasp of the meaning of the US declaration of Independence, where it states: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

For Cuba's Castro these unalienable rights are evidently not yet self-evident, either for humans in an embryonic stage or beyond. One hopes he will grasp this truth too.

Apr 25, 2009

Split between Cubans Deepens as They Debate Over Strategy and Attitudes

A curious split between some new Cuban exiles and those who have been steadily forced into exile for political motives since 1960 is deepening.

The latest confrontation has been reported by Cubaencuentro.com in Spanish accompanied by a butchered clip of Mario Diaz Balart's interview on 'One on One', almost identical to the one posted in YouTube this past week but subsequently pulled. The full 28 minute interview may be watched below (in English):

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart on 'One on One'

Notwithstanding Diaz Balart's justified attack of Castro's tyranny one wonders what he meant when disclosing the pride he felt about his family's past. Mr. Diaz Balart's father was a 'minister' under Batista's illegitimate coup government (1952-1858), the one which with US help stepped on Cuba's democratic constitution, the crime that led to Castro's follow up tyranny.

I can understand if he loves his father but that should be a private matter. It's utterly unacceptable however that he claim to be proud of his father's collaboration with Batista's tyranny while attacking Obama's potential collaboration with Castro's. While I agree with Diaz Balart with regard to Castro, I believe he owes Cubans an explanation regarding his views on Batista's coup. If he does not condemn Batista's tyranny then he contradicts himself and should not be trusted with regard to any appeals he makes for democracy in Cuba. In such a case, we just would never know what he really means by 'democracy' or what respect and loyalty he believes is owed to a country's legitimate constitution. He can't have it both ways and Cubans should not allow him to.

Here's Mr. Diaz Balart's father's testimony before US Congress in 1960.


Ironically, rather than questioning Diaz Balart's views of Batista, one unauthenticated reader posted a comment in Cubaencuentro.com referencing a letter attacking him for trivializing the Jewish holocaust in the interview. Did the writer focus on this because he would like Obama to further engage Castro's tyranny and would thus not have been consistent had he attacked Diaz Balart for his father's ties to Batista's?

Here's what said unauthenticated writer says in comment number 2:
"Analogias sin analisis como las del congresista Diaz Balart empobrecen nuestro debate nacional. Hitler es una metafora que solo debe ser usada para Hitler. El holocausto del pueblo judio no debe ser trivializado.

"No importa cuanto uno se oponga a esas practicas, ni las violaciones de derechos humanos en Cuba son comparables al holocausto judio ni es correcto llamar al embargo un genocidio.

"Necesitamos una discusion politica madura entre cubanos, en la que se discutan nuestros problemas en sus meritos, caracteristicas y especificidad, sin infantilismos ni insultos."
The writer is seemingly trying to represent his Jewish perspective on Diaz Balart's comments.

Why did he omit mentioning that the Jewish people have not lost their homeland unlike millions of Cubans? Is it perhaps because the Palestinians are the ones who've suffered a fate comparable to that of Cuban exiles? How about the thousands executed and imprisoned by Castro? The tens of thousand estimated to have died attempting to escape? The millions of Cuban families separated and dispersed all over the globe? The millions of exiled Cubans' descendants who don't even know their language and have never known their parents' homeland? The millions who have had their most elemental rights, even the freedom to move within their homeland, completely denied for half a century? What do we call all of that? What other ethnic, racial, religious or national group went through something like that for 50 years in the 20th century? 'Cultural genocide' is too light a term given that so mnany have been deprived even of their lives? What is it that it should be called since words are so important? What?

What about the fact that millions, even in the US, advocate on behalf of the criminal that has caused all of this? Even Robert Kennedy's daughter! What should they be called? What should those who want to make money on this whole thing be called? What about those who can only lament that they cannot travel and see but never utter a word about 'all of this'? What have they become? What should they be called? We, the victims, are the 'gusanos'? Who then are they? Who then are those who deny and hide and defend what's happening to the gusanera, uninterrupted, to this day?
"However, both the government of the United States and the gusanera (traitors in self-imposed exile) within and outside of Cuba have reacted with all kinds of arrogance."

Fidel Castro Reflection dated April 23, 2009
Arrogant. Gusanos (worms). Traitors. Self-imposed exile. Millions in the US and everywhere cheer him on.

How dare you.


The confrontation between groups has been simmering for some time. Below is the video of a very recent debate (in Spanish) between a Cuban American Miami attorney versus another Cuban in the US who defends the right of Castro endorsed Cuban musicians such as Los Van Van to perform in Miami, where many who have had relatives killed or impsisoned by the regime are exiled.

The most confrontative part of the debate is towards the end. Here it is in Spanish:


Apr 21, 2009

Cuba: Preliminary Proposal for a Peace Agreement between Cubans and the End of the Embargo

Ideally all Cubans could agree on living together under one ideology or another, but given the evident difficulties with that, what follows is a general outline of the minimum requirements for a peace agreement that could be implemented:

1.The Castro regime would consent for opponents of the regime inside Cuba to organize and participate in the election of representatives for all resident and exiled opponents; and would commit to not intervene in any way with this process.

2.Both sides (elected opposition representatives and the Castro regime) would meet to reach an agreement on the division of the total territory of the Cuban archipielago into at least 2 parts with the following required conditions:
--Each of the parts would be independently governed.

--All Cubans would be entitled to freely choose which part they want to live in and be provided with the means to express it under the supervision of international independent observers.

--The size of each of these 2 parts would be proportional to the number of Cubans who express their desire to inhabit or belong to it.
3.Authorized representatives of each part would sign a territorial division and mutual non-agression pact which would include all that would be forseebly necessary for peaceful convivience and also require both to jointly request an end to the US embargo.

4.Each part would be required to ratify it independently with their respective constituencies.

Please note that this is only a very general outline and that, in addition, a number of optional provisions have intentionally not been included. Let's see if we can first get somewhere with this.

I ask the Castro regime and its opponents to kindly meditate on it.

For example, I'm interested in learning what benefits and risks Cubans see for both parts? How might these be respectively increased and diminished for both sides?

Please feel free to submit any serious comments or questions you may have or to write to me at ddeeee1@gmail.com.

Please forward this proposal to others who may be interested in knowing about it or contributing ideas. Thank you very much.

Apr 19, 2009

Obama learning fast about Cuba and Latin America

Obama Has evidently been informing himself carefully regarding Cuba and Latin America and this began to pay dividends in Trinidad, albeit to the consternation of some.

For starters, the NY Times reported that the views he had on Cuba in 2004 had changed.
"Thus, while Mr. Obama ran for the Senate in 2004 on a platform of lifting the 47-year old trade embargo with Cuba, he acknowledged he had since changed his mind, saying that 2004 “seems just eons ago.”

"He said he has “great differences” with Mr. Chávez and insisted that freedom for the Cuban people would remain the guiding principle of his foreign policy.

“That’s our lodestone, our North Star,” Mr. Obama said.

"...The test for all of us is not simply words but also deeds.

“I am absolutely opposed and condemn any efforts at violent overthrows of democratically elected governments.”
The Washington Post added that Obama was ready to act again on Cuba only after the Castro regime responded beyond mere rhetoric.
"Obama noted progress, citing Raúl Castro's recent statement that his country was willing to discuss human rights issues with the United States. Cuba, Obama said, should free political prisoners, reduces its tax on remittances to the island and grant new freedoms to its citizens as a next step in thawing relations with the United States."
'New freedoms to its people'? What might that mean? Cubans had all the freedoms enjoyed by US citizens under its 1940 Constitution, the one Batista and Castro overthrew with their coups of 1952 and 1959 respectively. Hopefully Obama was referring to those freedoms.

Hopefully by 'its people' Obama meant Cuba's and not Castro's, who has never been legitimately elected and therefore has no right to govern.

Chavez shows Obama only one side of Eduardo Galeano

Eduardo Galeano became today the author of the 5th best selling book in Amazon.com a day after Hugo Chavez handed Obama a copy of his 1971 book "Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent". Isn't Chavez aware of Galeano's of 2003 essay: "Cuba Hurts"? If he is, why didn't he also provide Obama with a copy of that?

Is it because even Galeano, a pro-Castro and anti-Cuban dissident socialist recognizes the cruelty of his idol and the rights of non-supporters of the Cuban regime? Indeed, in said essay, Galeano agrees with Rosa Luexmbourg, another socialist, whom he quotes:
"Freedom for only the supporters of the government, however many there may be, is not freedom. Real freedom is freedom for those who think differently."
Further excerpts in English and Spanish are quoted below:
"The recent wave of executions and arrests in Cuba is ...very bad news-and very sad-for those of us ...who also believe that freedom and justice go together or not at all...

"...the Cuban government is now committing acts that, as Uruguayan writer Carlos Quijano would say, "sin against hope."

"...Without general elections, without freedom of the press and unlimited freedom of assembly, without a contest of free opinions, life stagnates and withers in all public institutions, and the bureaucracy becomes the only active element.

"My conscience clear...I do not believe in, and have never believed in single-party democracy ...Nor do I believe that the omnipotence of the state is a valid response to the omnipotence of the market."
I shouldn't have written that Galeano is pro-Castro for that is not all certain. He's pro-Castro's 'revolution' or what should be more correctly characterized as 'Castro´s post-revolutionary coup'.

Apr 17, 2009

Obama Engages Cuban Tyranny as Cubans Watch Him Navigate the Shark Infested Waters

After intervening in Cuba's War of Independence in 1898 without Cubans having asked, US leaders pushed the Cuban Mambises aside and granted Spain rights to administer the fledgling nation. Today, 57 years after it helped the first of 2 Cuban tyrants into place the US is deliberating on how to engage the second, presumably to further hemispheric interests.

Yet US President Barrack Obama has arrived at the Summit of the Americas in Port Of Spain, Trinidad announcing that he didn't come to debate about 1898 or 1952 or 1959-2009 but to construct the future. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton however quickly referred to part of the past declaring: "We are continuing to look for productive ways forward because we view the present policy as having failed..."

Which policy? The embargo or the one inspired by the Monroe doctrine and implemented in Cuba since at least 1898? Obama then announced: "I think it is important to recognize, given the historic suspicions, that the United States policy should not be interference in other countries."

No Monroe Doctrine it seems. Yet Obama's next statement is ambiguous: "But that also means that we can't blame the United States for every problem that arises in the hemisphere, that is part of the bargain, that is part of the change that has to take place. That is the old way, we need a new way."

So does his policy of non-interference with the tyranny actually mean that he intends to treat the tyrant the same as those whom the latter is crushing? That would align him closely with one mayor thread of the past: McKinley, Monroe, Truman and Eisenhower but not with Lincoln.

It should be obvious that non-interference cannot mean strengthening a tyranny for that certainly interferes with those Cubans struggling for liberation.

Non-interference should be only with respect to what is just; and assistance against what is unjust when asked. Obama and Clinton surely recognize that 2 million Cubans have not been 50 years in exile because things in Cuba are just or even tolerable. Accordingly, any meetings with the Castros should not happen at least until they explain why they can't respect human rights, allow a free press, respect freedom of expression, free political prisoners and not prevent the celebration of multi-party elections, prior to a meeting with Obama.

Castro writes reflections on almost a daily basis. Obama should consider asking him to explain why these changes must wait until a meeting with him. Cubans everywhere need to understand what those reasons are and I believe Obama does too. Otherwise Obama would be navigating on a raft and blindly through shark infested waters. So he should ask them.


If Obama and Clinton consider US policy in Cuba not merely since the embargo but from its beginning in 1898 they will see a different picture. In said context the embargo is a clear break from a past in which the US first supported the Spaniards against the Cubans after Cuba's 1898 War of Independence; and later supported the tyranny that brought us to where we are today, that is, Batista's. If it were to support Castro's tyranny by unilaterally lifting the embargo it would return to that past.

I believe Obama is an honest man and that for him engaging Castro does not translate into becoming his accomnplice. All the contrary. He wants to go beyond the 50 year rhetoric that stalls and enter critical and liberating dialogue with the regime. That's why he has publicly recognized that it will take time and cautioned that he's 'not interested in talking for the sake of talking'.

Cuba's Raul Castro Ready to Talk about 'Everything' ...but with Obama

Just a few days ago Ricardo Alarcón president of the Castro regime's 'National Assembly' declared there were no political prisoners in Cuba. Yet yesterday Raul Castro announced he was ready to talk about them. Hmm. Confusing signals.

Switching yesterday from bad cop (Fidel) to good cop, Mr. Raul Castro declared he was willing to talk about everything: political prisoners, freedom of the press. He cautioned that this could only occur however 'without casting the slightest shadow over Cuba's sovereignty' or 'without the slightest violation of the Cuban people's right to self determination'.

Here's Mr. Raul Castro responding to Obama yesterday:

As expected, he was addressing President Obama and the United States, not the millions of Cubans who charge him and his brother precisely for usurping our right to self-determination. Somehow he and his brother have fallen under the delusion that they and Obama were elected to represent the people of Cuba.

Obama does not appear to suffer from such a delusion. Here's his response:

Apr 16, 2009

What Castro Wants from Obama...as he Attempts to Divert Attention from his Crimes to Climate Change and Financial Crisis - Part VI

Castro of course may forever try anything (through his emissaries in Trinidad) to shift the subject to just issues like human driven climate change and world capitalism's financial crisis. Obama will surely have no problem addressing any of these, with the caveat that unlike Castro, he has no grave crimes to hide.

Hiding his crimes behind an array of just causes to distract the world's attention is the ploy Castro's used for 50 years to get the sympathy he needs while he crushes Cubans. "The executioner's hand is always well hidden" (B. Dylan).

In Trinidad, if attacked by Chavez and Castro's other representatives, it'll be up to Obama to insist on critical analysis and call a spade a spade as thus far he has eloquently done.

Castro might then shift from flattering to ideologically vilifying Obama; that's all he'd have left, for again (except for the stand he shares with Castro on abortion), the latter has committed no crimes. In addition, it will be very hard for Castro to accomplish this inside Cuba.

The discussion would then open up to all the real issues, not just Castro's favorites.


The Washington Post has just published an eye opening editorial for the blind entitled "Wrong Subject" where it argues that it's: "...easier to demand concessions for Cuba than to defend Venezuelan democracy." It's worth reading even for those who are not in denial about Cuba.

What Castro Wants from Obama...as he Confesses that Retired US Military Officers say the US Needs him for Protection from Drug Lords - Part V

In today's reflection Castro argued that even retired US military officers are on his side, that they finally recognize that they need him to protect the US against drug lords. I wonder what Castro's General Ochoa would have said about that, had he not been executed by Castro presumably for drug trafficking.

Ochoa was a widely popular and charismatic military leader and Commander of Castro's armed forces in Angola. Indeed in his trial a defendant testified that he had been led to believe that drug trafficking was approved by the regime's leadership.

In the new role he aspires to as the hemisphere's drug czar, who might Castro now really want executed and why?

You can watch the defendant's testimony below.

Did the witness' (on video) testimony lead to an independent investigation about narcotrafficking at the head of the regime? Of course not. How could it? There is no real separation of powers; everything leads back to Castro. No sane Cuban would consider requesting that the Castros be investigated for narcotrafficking or anything else for that would be a counter-revolutionary act by Castro standards. Whoever would have dared to request it would likely have ended up like General Ochoa.
"A former direct report of Pablo Escobar has tied Fidel and Raul Castro to a chain of narco trafficking ..." Read Castro Again Accused of Drug Trafficking.

What does Castro want from Obama...as he Blames the US for Stealing 'Human Resources' - Part IV

Castro shamelessly blames the US for 'stealing human resources'. He wants exiles in Cuba but as slaves, that is, working for his illegitimate state for $15 monthly in whatever task he wishes while threatening them to remain silent about his presumed right to own them. When Cubans try to make a living on their own or non-violently object they are of course publicly condemned by his regime as worms, corrupt, counter-revolutionaries in order to incite to incite mobs against them.

He claims he does not want handouts and yet he slaps a 20% tax on any remittances in US dollars of exiles to their families. Not interested in money and handouts and yet taxing 'mercenaries' and their families? Again, according to the Oxford dictionary a 'mercenary' is one 'primarily concerned with money or other reward'. Who is the mercenary, the thousands who charitably send a remittance to family or the one who taxes it, King George?

What does Castro want from Obama...as he attacks US imperialism and shifts focus to Bay of Pigs and School of the Americas- Part III

Hoping to fend off attacks on his legitimacy, Castro dedicated a whole reflection to past US interventions in Cuba and Latin America as if opposing a tyranny was comparable to overthrowing a democratically elected government.

Justifiably he condemns the School of the Americas and tortures in Guantanamo probably hoping that with this he can neutralize attacks on his harassment, silencing, imprisonment, torture. and execution of those who have dared to question his legitimacy the past 50 years. He apparently reasons that since the US has done it, he can do it too.

Additionally, but no less importantly, he wants to hide the virtual slavery of Cuba's workers who (unless they are there to protect him) work for an average of US$15 monthly in jobs determined by Castro's illegitimate state.

He fails to acknowledge however that Obama is against torture or the persecution of political opponents or that while he objects to unregulated capitalism he does not condone Castro's brand of slavery. As far as one can tell, Obama is no McCarthy or King George III.

Castro has called Obama's lifting of some restrictions a 'positive step' but he has certainly not expressed joy at the idea of having to share Cuba with compatriots in exile. Indeed, he has still not announced that in response to Obama's concession he will stop attempting to prevent Cubans outside in or those inside out.

Exiles are coming back? Those mercenaries? Castro focused his reflection on the fact that under Kennedy and the CIA's umbrella, Cuban exiles attempted to rid Cuba of his incipient dictatorship him in 1961. A mercenary, according to the Oxford dictionary is (as an adjective) 'primarily concerned with money or other reward' or (as a noun) is 'a hired soldier in foreign service'. That describes Castro's relationship with the Soviet Union rather well but not the Cuban exiles who cruised into the Bay of Pigs (Playa Girón) to free their homeland of a second consecutive dictatorship. These were family men who with only weeks of training and the compelling purpose to reestablish democracy in their homeland were ill advised to accept the assistance of the CIA. If anything it was an act of desperation given that they were not prepared, were not career soldiers by any stretch of the imagination and had no control whatsoever over the air support they had been promised but never received. Blindly heroic, they assumed a tremendous and miscalculated risk which all paid for either with death, imprisonment and shattered family lives; and without achieving their purpose.

Castro is slandering these Cuban patriots because it was he who most certainly behaved then as the mercenary, the one 'primarily concerned with money or other reward'. Yes, Castro wanted money, a deal, like now and that is a fact. He was willing then, as he is now, to sell Cubans for money or other merchandise. He kept them for ransom and released them only after it was delivered. He had and has no respect whatsoever for his compatriots, publicly and frequently characterizing them as worms or merchandise to be traded in the market with those he declares enemies and even with friends.


What does Castro want from Obama ...and Obama from Castro? - Part II

In his (now) 5 reflections since Obama's limited lifting of restrictions on Cuba, Castro alludes to an array of issues but, unaccustomed to dialogue, has thus far disregarded the invitation to discuss the civil rights of Cubans, political prisoners and democratic elections. That's either not good for appetizers or not relevant to Castro for he would surely be deprived of power and could even end up being tried, convicted and imprisoned or placed under house arrest.

Not surprisingly, as he prepares to meet hemispheric leaders in Trinidad today, Obama gently touched on Castro's omissions in an Op Ed published today.
"Each of our countries has pursued its own democratic journey, but we must be joined together in our commitment to liberty, equality, and human rights. That is why I look forward to the day when every country in the hemisphere can take its seat at the table consistent with the Inter-American Democratic Charter. And just as the United States seeks that goal in reaching out to the Cuban people, we expect all of our friends in the hemisphere to join together in supporting liberty, equality, and human rights for all Cubans."
Castro surely knows he can't forever avoid what he omits to address but he appears to be content with maintaining the status quo as long as possible for it has provided him with unchecked power in Cuba and a massive following from hemispheric leaders angry at past US foreign policy.

Yet it won't be that easy for him to get away with it this time given that Obama does not share his predecessors' views or foreign policies. Obama can agree with much of what Castro supposedly stands for without making further concessions for as long as Castro stubbornly fails to satisfactorily address Cuban political prisoners, civil rights and democratic elections.

Apr 15, 2009

What does Castro Want from Obama? Dialog or Subservience?

Judging from the 4 reflections he's published since the announcement on the lifting of some restrictions on Cuba 2 days ago, it's not clear whether Castro wants to dialog and negotiate with Obama or dictate, or quantums of both.

Obama is fortunate not to have been born in Cuba for he would surely be in grave danger of being silenced for acting on his political beliefs.

At this point the question seems to be not what Obama should respond (he already has), but how. Perhaps the US President should guide himself by what he would do if he were running for office against Castro in the U.S. or Cuba. There are substantial differences of course, for would Castro be willing to debate him or other Cubans on Cuban National TV? Perhaps he should ask Castro what would happen if he were Cuban and attempt to make his political views publicly known throughout the nation, encourage others to follow him, form a political party and call elections.

In my next few posts and if all goes well, I'll be posting my reflections on Castro's 4 latest reflections, that is, those he's published since the announcement. In the meantime, you can read Castro's reflections yourself. Only 2 of the 4 have been translated by Granma up until now. These are the links:

"On the blockade, not one word was said" - April 13, 2009 6:12 p.m.

"Days that cannot be forgotten" April 14, 2009 - 11:15 a.m.

"¿Tiene la OEA derecho a existir?" April 14 de 2009 - 4:43 p.m.

"No hay descanso para el mundo" April 14 de 2009 -7:02 p.m.

Apr 13, 2009

Obama serves it into Cuba and Latin America's Castro side of the Court

No, this is probably not like Richard Nixon's China Ping Pong diplomatic initiative in 1971. Hopefully it's a real break from the past and human rights will not take a back seat this time.

As major newspapers (WSJ, WP, NY Times) report today that Obama has ordered the lifting of restrictions on Cuban Americans wanting to visit their native land, the uncensored Cuban exile online media reported that a Puerto Rican (and therefore U.S. citizen) was violently arrested 2 days ago in Holguín, Cuba. Her crime was to publicly question Ricardo Alarcón regarding the constant violation of human rights by the tyranny and the illegitimacy of the constitution imposed on the Cuban people. Alarcón is the president of the Castro regime's so called 'National Assembly'. The US or other international media has yet to report on the Puerto Rican's arrest or his whereabouts.
Why should anyone believe that Cuban Americans traveling to Cuba and daring to question the regime's legitimacy and repression will experience a different fate than said Puerto Rican American? Now that the Obama Administration has lifted restrictions on Cuban Americans traveling to Cuba from the U.S., what will it do if any are arrested for doing what this Puerto Rican American has done?

In addition, how and what will most of the world know if Cuban Americans traveling to their native land are subsequently imprisoned for political dissent? What response can they expect from the US and international media?
Oh, that's easy, the Wall Street Journal has now reported that the "...Obama administration will allow U.S. telecom companies and other providers to apply for licenses to do business in Cuba, including setting up television and mobile phone service..."
Does that mean that the same US and international media that has not reported even bothering to visit Antuñez and the other dissidents will keep US and world public opinion informed? Does it mean that the same media which hundreds of millions access through Google's news and blog search engine is henceforth going to prioritize human rights, even if it's only about Cubans?

Does it also mean that Cubans on the island, the majority of whom live on salaries of US $15 per month will soon be able to afford access to the Internet? Does it mean that the regime will not block Internet sites or TV stations with information that oppose it or question its legitimacy?

Furthermore, will all Cubans be allowed in by Castro (or just those that will keep silent)?
It almost certainly does not mean any of the foregoing.

Meanwhile Antúnez and the 4 dissidents in Placetas presumably under a state of siege by state security and prevented from access to liquid nutrients have reported that one of them is in a precarious medical state. Accordingly they have requested that a physician selected by them be allowed to assist her while expressing their fear and objection to any physicians that might be provided by the regime.
One must recognize that unlike some US Congressmen the Obama Administration has been cautiously responding to internal and international pressure to 'normalize' relations with Castro (like Truman and Eisenhower did in 1952-1959 with Batista). Fulfilling his promise to Cuban Americans, his administration has consistently insisted that prior to normalizing relations, political prisoners must be released, free speech and civil rights guaranteed and genuinely democratic elections held.

But what else does 'normalizing relations' mean? How can relations with a regime accused of grave crimes against its people ever be 'normal'? Is the Obama administration somehow preparing to join the chorus of Latin American presidents led by Lula (Brazil) and Chavez (Venezuela) and pursue a policy of obstruction of justice in Cuba? Is it going to implicitly recognize 'Castro' as 'Cuba' and thereby tragically reinforce the precedent of normalized relations with future tyrannies that may yet emerge (in Latin America or Cuba)?

Will it expect like so many others that Cuban Americans just accept that the Castros may have committed (and continue to do so unabashed) whatever crimes and yet be not only protected by US and Latin America presidents from any accountability but be engaged as agents of just change and even pillars of justice? Are Cubans expected to approve of the legitimization of criminals just because as a result of the totalitarian state imposed upon them they have not been not able to bring them to trial yet? Is this what some mean by 'reconciliation'?

Surely this is not Obama's project but what then does the The Washington Post mean when it contends that "... as a candidate, Obama promised to seek closer relations with Cuba, and ...as president, he has signaled that he intends to move toward a greater openness...."

No, the WP has it wrong, I don't believe that Obama intends to become the regime's accomplice even as the temptation and pressure to succumb to a false fix is being blatantly broadcasted everywhere; except of course in that portion of the Cuban community exiled for political reasons and in the legitimate non-violent opposition protesting bare handed within.
The Cuban American National Foundation recently published an intelligent and practical proposal that suggests, for the most part, a more coherent path to future US-Cuba relations; one that allies the US government with those Cuban people pushing for democracy and not with criminals posing as liberators and revolutionaries or its supporters.

While the proposal could be improved, its recommendation for a shift in the US policy since 1959 is a step in the right direction and it is this that the Obama Administration appears to be listening to. I would suggest that the shift must go further back, that is, it must also change the course taken in 1952 and in 1898. The people of the US and Cuba need to build the basis for a true, lasting, just and mutually respectful friendship, not one between legitimately elected leaders in one and a tyrant in the other; not one where the more powerful party in the relationship capitalizes on the vulnerability of the other. Hopefully that day is on its way.

It should go without saying that the same applies to Latin America, Canada, Spain and the rest of the world, for unlike the Obama Administration and with few exceptions (e.g. Eastern Europe), they have turned their back on the Cuban people and joined forces with the illegitimate unelected regime which continues to pretend to permanently enslave us.


Cuba's constitution was approved in 1940, consolidating it as a sovereign democratic republic, requiring separation of executive, legislative and judicial powers and guaranteeing all of the civil liberties that have been denied by the current totalitarian state for the past 50 years. This constitution was violated by Batista through a coup in 1952 but only 15 days later Harry Truman normalized relations, recognizing him as Cuba's legitimate leader and Eisenhower continued with this policy until he was forced to abandon it.

Batista was ousted by a massive popular uprising coordinated by a student movement, urban dissenters and Fidel Castro's armed 26 of July movement. After its success, while recognizing Cuba's constitution, Castro immediately and treacherously began violating it. He unconstitutionally appointed presidents, imprisoned revolutionaries who had fought by his side, repressed civil liberties and freedom of the press, installed government informers in every corner and thereby by 1976 had consolidated a communist totalitarian state.

First tens, then hundreds of thousands fled while thousands were executed and imprisoned. Over two million citizens or 33% of Cuba's 1959 population eventually were forced into exile; however the first generation of these has died and the second is close to Castro's age. The remaining exiles are a mix that includes those who were exiled as children in 1960 (and their descendants) as well as thousands who were born in Cuba after the birth of Castro's 'revolutionary' totalitarian state and subsequently either fled or were sent abroad for propaganda purposes. Tens of thousands are estimated to have died in Caribbean shark infested waters attempting to flee.

With his totalitarian state consolidated, a substantial portion of the population in exile and all media under his control, Castro claimed that a new constitution had been almost unanimously approved in 1976. It was later modified by his regime in 1992, 2000 and 2002. Attempts to modify it by other Cubans have been regularly ignored for under said new 'constitution', the regime's 'National Assembly' is the only one with the right to do so, even though they are not legitimately elected by the Cuban people (including exiles).

Yet Venezuela's elected president Chavez, evidently hoping to pressure Obama, recently asked the world: "Why does Cuba continue to be left out of the Summit of the Americas, if Cuba is a friend of Latin American and Caribbean countries?"
Who is 'Cuba' for you, President Chavez? Who is the one leaving the majority of the Cuban people out if not you and your ilk?

Apr 3, 2009

Google, the Mainstream News Media, Blogs and Cuba : What I thought was not so crazy after all

The news media has traditionally been considered the 4th power in any democratic republic. With so many newspapers facing closure however, Google, blogs and the social networks are moving in to drive the formation of public opinion. So much is known. What is less understood is what it means. How will having a search engine in charge of effectively determining the news people read impact public opinion, political decisions, world events and human rights?

It's historically self-evident that bias and prejudice can result in people being abused or killed so one would think that Google, which prides itself as being a 'force for the good', would be careful to avoid it. Yet is that possible? Can one really suppose that Google's engineers, or their search algorithms, are free of moral bias. Hardly. This would not perhaps be a problem if Google were not a near monopoly but if to be visible in the world one must be found on Google, then for some it can be a matter of life and death that Google be a force for the good.
As Congress deliberates US policy towards Cuba this week, the 7 events below have been reported by at least someone on Cuba:
ONE: Former political prisoner Antúnez (Jorge Luis Garcia Perez) and 4 other dissidents have been under a state of Siege by Cuban State Security for over a week and are not allowed to obtain the liquid nutrients they need to survive. See my posts on this issue here, here, here, and here.

TWO: ON March 30 Amnesty International attempted to alert the world to the life threatening situation Antúnez and the other dissidents are confronting as I write.

THREE: On March 29 Yoani Sanchez and about 10 others surprised the world when they staged an unexpected performance at Havana's Art Biennial. They did a parody of Fidel Castro and took a free speech swing at the totalitarian state. They were subsequently accused by Castro of counter tyrannical 'provocation'.

FOUR: Politically motivated arrests have been reported almost daily in the Cuban exile media (see Miscelaneas de Cuba.com). IN march 2009 alone 300 acts of political intimidation were reported by the dissident Cuban Human Rights Council.

FIVE: On March 27, 1000 former Cuban political prisoners, forced into exile, have announced they will meet to wake up the world about Castro's assault on Cubans' human rights for 50 years.

SIX: On March 29 Castro's regime and the US opened a US-Cuba art exhibit with works from New York's Chelsea.

SEVEN: The US Senate and the House of Representatives are deciding on whether to pass legislation to allow all US citizens to travel to Cuba (The Cuba Travel Act - S. 428), the lifting of other restrictions and even reconciliation with Castro (The Cuba Reconciliation Act (H.R. 188).
Of these Google and renowned US and international media powerhouses such as the New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, The Los Angeles Times, and The BBC reported only on 2, that is, on events 6 and 7, but hardly or not at all on 1 to 5 even though people's lives are evidently and imminently in danger and news on this issue would or should certainly influence US and world opinion on the last 2 issues. Nor did financial considerations prevent these renowned papers from attending and reporting on an Art Fair in Havana. They has their journalists and camarographers right there. Yet not one took the 2 hour trip to see Antúnez and the 4 other dissidents under siege by Cuban State Security at the latter's home in Placetas.

So what is driving this prejudiced media coverage with respect to Cuba? Could it be that the mainstream news media is so financially stretched that it no longer has sufficient resources to cover Cuba? No. Well I really mean, Google doesn't think so. Granted that Google's reporting is constantly in flux, but that's not the case with the 'secret' search algorithms it implements to determine what is relevant and to what. Database programmers and any intelligent person will understand immediately that human decisions and biases and not some random or chance mechanisms determine what is found when searching a database and that Google is no exception.
Accordingly I attempted a few searches last night to get a ballpark idea of just how Google, the major newspapers and the blogs are informing the world about Cuba.
After all, we have US senators like Richard Lugar who without a blink are quite willing to toss out any considerations of conscience to satisfy what he believes the world believes should be the US policy towards Cuba. On Lugar's very recent letter to Obama the Washington Post reported:
"The nearly 50-year-old economic embargo against Cuba, Lugar (R-Ind.) said in a March 30 letter to Obama, puts the United States at odds with the views of the rest of Latin America, the European Union and the United Nations, and 'undermines our broader security and political interests in the Western Hemisphere'."
Upon performing a Google news search for 'Cuba' last night 2, not 7, big stories appeared on the first search page. Indeed, Google reported an astounding 517 news articles on 'Rep. Barbara Lee heading to Cuba to talk tourism and trade'. It sure looks like according to Google and the mainstream media the forthcoming vote in Congress is a done deal Americans get ready. We're back in Cuba just like the good old Batista days.

Granted, Google concurrently reported that there were supposedly 113 stories on how an unexpected performance by Yoani Sanchez and several others at the Cuban Art Biennial had sparked a 'Cuban free speech debate' (news story # 3 above). However, upon checking it out I discovered that this was a distortion. There were only 5 that were about that particular event. The others were unrelated as of last night.

So what did a Google news search on 'Cuba' reveal about what is happening to Antúnez and the 5 dissidents (story # 1 above). Of the major newspapers only the Miami Herald had published anything and they didn't even visit the site of the siege. The Herald's was the only story on Antúnez, that Google reported in the first 25 pages of a search for news on Cuba. Amnesty International's story on Antúnez didn't appear either when the Google news search term was 'Cuba'.

So I did a Google news search specifying the key words 'Antúnez Amnesty International' and this resulted in exactly 1 news article, but in German. Not relevant to Cuba says Google and what's left of the mainstream media.

So with the silence of the mainstream media on Cuba human rights issues we are left to what the blogs tell us but what does Google do in this case?

I challenge anyone to do a Google blog search (exclusively) using the keyword 'Cuba' to see how much you can find on human rights or morality, or on the first 5 Cuba stories of the week I reported above.

That's precisely what I did only to discover that nothing resembling morality, human rights or democracy (all fundamental human and US values) on Cuba can be found until the page 7 of Google's blog search results on that keyword ('Cuba'). Nothing on the 5 news stories listed above can be found on the first 25 pages Google blog search pages for 'Cuba'.

It was only on the 7th page of Google's blog search results that I first found something, a listing of a Diario de Las Américas' story arguing that travel to Cuba will not bring democracy. Then on page 8 there's Mark Masferrer's post: 'Uncommon Sense: Ban on Cuba travel puts US. on the right side'. Uncommon indeed, for in Google's Cuba it's again silence on morality and human rights until blog search results page 12 where I found "Brave souls from Cuba plan to meet", the story of 1000 former Cuban political prisoners, forced into exile, meeting to denounce the tyranny. Surely this would be something important for the world and Washington to know right now, right? Not really says Google and the bloggers it prioritizes.

Only on page 13 of the search results did I find a listing of a blog story on Castro accusing Yoani Sanchez and her friends of "provocation" at the Art Biennial (story #3 above). On page 15 Google once again cites Mark Masferrer Uncommon Sense, this time with a story arguing against a renowned pro-Castro author and blogger who contended that experiencing hunger has actually been good for Cubans. Makes Cubans resilient. (She should consider trying her own medicine for 50 years along with a $15 a monthly Cuban salary for anything else she may perhaps need. )

Then Google was silent again for 5 more search pages, that is, until page 20 of the search results on 'Cuba' where it finally listed a story Amnesty International's 3 day old alert to the world on the urgency and gravity of the situation Antúnez and the 5 dissidents under siege are facing (story #1) . How's that for obstruction of justice when it comes to Cuba human rights by the world's news/blog search almost monopoly!

I then continued until page 25 but found nothing else. That's what Google had on human rights, morality and democracy in its first 250 listings last night (10 listings for each of 25 search pages). Of 250 stories listed on a Google blog search for 'Cuba', only 6 (and beginning only on page 7) of the search results were about human rights, morality or democracy. That's approximately 2% of all listings on 'Cuba' in those first of 25 of 100 pages of search results. The other 98% of the blog stories listed were more or less about how Americans were packing their bags to return to the good old Batista days.
Arguably the reason I didn't find anything about Antúnez, human rights and the morality of lifting restrictions on Cuba, etc. is that no one is writing about it on the blogs. To test this hypothesis I did a search on Google blogs for 'Antúnez Placetas'. There were 15 pages of blogs covering it (150 listings!); however, practically all of them seemed to be written by Cubans opposed to tyranny, like me. Why weren't they listed in the first 25 pages of a Google blog search on 'Cuba'?

I then searched for 'Cuba morality' and couldn't believe my eyes when I saw that my post yesterday, "The Morality of Lifting Restrictions on Cuba: The China Question, The China Lesson", was ranked 2nd in relevance'. So what could this mean? Searching for this same post on Google ---> blogs, but using only using 'Cuba' as the search term it was not to be found in Google's first 25 blog search result pages on 'Cuba'. One would actually have to be interested in the human rights of Cubans to find it and use 2 keywords 'Cuba morality', not just 'Cuba', to discover it. Evidently Google presumes that those searchers interested in 'Cuba' alone are not, but that says more about Google's values then about its searchers for news or blogs about Cuba.

Connect the dots and what does one get: The most plausible conclusion is that the human rights of Cubans and morality are just not central issues when it comes to the general topic of 'Cuba', as far as Google is concerned. Otherwise how can one explain that those 15 pages of blogs on Antúnez and my own post on morality did not appear listed in those first 25 pages of Google's blog search results on 'Cuba'?

Google can kiss goodbye to its claim to be 'a force for the good' if something further happens to Antúnez or to Yoani Sanchez and the dissidents who took that free speech swing at Castro 5 days ago.

The problem continues. While the piece you are reading is very visible in Google blogs, one that I posted yesterday entitled "Return Guantanamo to Whom? has been blocked, that is, it's not listed under blogs either by dates or relevance. I have checked 5, 8 and 18 hours later using the keywords 'Guantanamo' or the whole title 'Return Guantanamo to Whom' and several other combinations but none yielded results on Google blogs, although one can find it on the web if one really tries.

Maybe Google should subscribe to my Atom feeds since it was reported there in seconds.

Google is a little more subtle than Castro's Granma, for it freely and conveniently publishes blogs on human rights violations in Cuba but then expertly hides them from view.

I obtained slightly better results with www.metacrawler.com/ but that searches the web and not just blogs. Not surprisingly it obtained its results from Google's database.

I just checked and 'Return Guantanamo to Whom' is finally visible on searching Google ==> blogs 'return guantanamo to whom', by date. The only problem is that I discovered it at 1:17 AM the next day, about 31 hours after posting it. Given that I had checked 18 hours after posting and it wasn't there, Google took 18 to 31 hours to list said blog post by date. This fact must be evaluated in the context that I had to report it in this blog post you are reading, which I know has a high visibility (at least up until now).

Why does Google (at least temporarily) block the visibility of blog posts that denounce human rights abuses in Cuba, while immediately posting those that promote it as a tourist destination, etc.?

Almost 2 and 1/2 hours after posting "Gesture from Castro: Hotel Internet Access Now Out of Bounds for Cubans" one still can't find it, sorting by date, using the keywords 'Cuba Internet' in Google ==>blogs.

Nor can one find Cubaencuentro's news report on which it was based if one searches, with those same keywords, by date, on Google==> News.

An almost duplicate post titled "Hotel Internet Access Now Out of Bounds for Cubans" in Invisible Cuba (my new blog) is also invisible in Google blogs if searched with the keywords 'Cuba Internet'.

What else could one have expected from Google when it comes to human rights violations?
Almost 36 hours after publishing "Cuban Police Beat Up 3 Women Attempting to Visit Dissident Antúnez (Video)" it cannot be found by the Google search engine or the others that depend on it. The world's most used search engine continues to subtly but systematically censor news coming from Cuban dissidents related to human rights violations. Meanwhile many newspapers are plagued by gaps in their Cuba coverage (e.g. live reporting on Antúnez) and, like Google, they adopt increasingly subjective editorial criteria. As far as coverage of Cuba is concerned Google and most of the news media have been reduced to the pursuit of clicks.
Updated below on May 13 at 3:15 PM FROM ARGENTINA
My post "Cuban Police Beat Up 3 Women Attempting to Visit Dissident Antúnez (Video)" is finally found in Google's search engine but only 4 hours after reporting Google's censorship in my previous update and in this blog; and 40 hours after originally posting it.

However it cannot be found if one searches by date using 'Cuba' or 'Cuba repression' as keywords. The Cuban tyranny was elected to the United Nations Human Rights council the same day as my post. That piece of news is of course is easily found on Google.

By blocking my post for 40 hours Google made it effectively invisible in blog searches by date. In addition, given a human rights bias that favors Castro and friends while hiding posts by Castro's opponents (exiles, etc.) it effectively makes it invisible in blog searches by 'relevance'.

Now Cubanos vs. Muchos, (in Spanish) posted on June 18, 2009, is thus far (3 days and 3 hours later) being blocked within Argentina by Google's search engine for blogs.

In addition, on June 18 Argentina extended my permit to reside here for only one more month, that is, until after parlamientary elections. Previously, they had been renewing it for 3 months at a time.

UPDATE JULY 22 - Argentina extended my residency permit on July 21.

Google has blocked my 2 latests posts in English and 1 Spanish from blog searches within Argentina.

Legitimacy Question Lingers for Honduras and Cuba
Obama Openly Woos Cuba's Military Tyranny
Obama Corteja Tiranía Militar de Cuba

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Apr 2, 2009

The Morality of Lifting Restrictions on Cuba: The China Question, The China Lesson

Pro Cuba-travel and anti-embargo enthusiasts in Congress and elsewhere maintain that it's contradictory to restrict trade relations and travel by US citizens to Cuba while according China a most favorite nation treatment. No one seriously doubts that China does not respect human rights and mercilessly crushes dissidents, except of course, the Chinese government. The BBC recently published a story about the Chinese government contending that a video presumably showing Tibetans being beaten up by Chinese police, was a fabrication by the Dalai Lama. You can see the video below.

While Castro does not deny Chinese brutality, he recently reportedly said that dissidents in China should not go unpunished, suggesting of course that Cuban dissidents can expect the same.

Prior to Richard Nixon's 1971 ping pong initiative to normalize relations with China there was hardly any trade between both countries. Why did Nixon, a crusading anti-communist want to change things? For moral reasons? Obviously not. He was surely aware that China's communist dictatorship repressed dissidents and unabashedly embraced values contrary to the US Bill of Rights. Nixon was undoubtedly motivated by the cheap labor and increased profitability China could provide US manufacturers and assumed that the US would forever wield the upper hand. No one can seriously argue that the US president ever intended to morally convert China to the ethics cherished by a primarily Christian US citizenry. The moral question of strengthening an egregious violator of human rights was either addressed superficially or not at all. We'll convert them with capitalism. That was the idea then with China as it is now with Cuba.

In 1979, just 8 years after Nixon began his diplomatic effort, trade between both nations grew to $2.4 billion. By 1994 it was $48 billion and by 2000 China had become the US' fourth largest supplier with total trade reaching $116 billion: $100 billion imported by the U.S. and only $16 billion exported. Between 2000 and 2008 US imports from China almost tripled to $338 billion, while exports reached only $71 billion. In addition, China is now the US' largest creditor and as of January 2009, it held $739 billion in US treasury bonds.

Thus 38 years after Nixon's strictly economic decision, it's evident that China has the upper hand providing both capital for the US Government and goods for its people.

However, their human rights abuses remain undeterred. Indeed, now they argue that their accusers have confused right with wrong.
"The U.S. claim is totally inaccurate and confuses right and wrong and is unacceptable to China,"
was the explanation when they recently harassed a US ship in international waters. The Dalai lama got no better treatment:
"The Dalai Lama clique is confusing right and wrong," said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu.
responding to the Dalai Lama's quest for Tibetan cultural autonomy.

Thusly the moral question has popped right back in, the one the US never addressed in 1971, but now China is the one raising it.

Yet economic considerations continue to trump all moral ones for some people in the U.S. It's questionable that even as the nation finds itself near the edge of a precipice sufficient Americans believe that the morality of a foreign policy decision has any impact on its destiny, just like they failed to in 1971 when Nixon initiated his ping pong diplomacy.

Hopefully this will change very soon. However, in yesterday's Freedom to Travel to Cuba Press Conference, the first moral issue mentioned by the Congressmen was that a US citizen's 'right' to travel to Cuba to ride a bike had been violated by the US government. Apparently that was the extent of what was morally at stake for them, or as much as they wanted to address on the moral front. Omit this and omit that about Cuba; otherwise this bill will never pass. The conference ended with the infantile suggestion that the US should just try something 'different' in Cuba and for these Congressmen that apparently means sending a couple of million of US tourists helplessly hoping that somehow they will bring about respect for human rights.

Travel to Cuba. Champagne bottles are being chilled and the media is in a frenzy.

Yes that is China and that other one is Cuba and so what: this is Rome.

The video is also available at the BBC site here.

As expected, China has blocked YouTube.

Apr 1, 2009

The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Press Conference

It will be interesting to see what finally happens this week in both houses of the US Congress as they debate on The Cuba Reconciliation Act ((H.R. 188)) and the Cuba Travel Act ((S.428)). Indeed, perhaps we'll even be able to gauge just how much attitudes and policy towards Cuba and Cubans have changed in the past 111 years, that is, since 1898. Will Congress decide to once again invade and occupy Cuba, as in 1898, but this time with millions of tourists? Will they again decide to support a tyrant, as they regrettably did with Batista? Or will they support the return of the legitimate democracy Cubans had between 1940 and 1952?

Surely some of those who will engage in debate are saving ammunition for the live event but today's Freedom to Travel to Cuba Press Conference (video below) provided clips of the type of spurious arguments we might expect.

One congressman kept repeating that the US should stop 'punishing US citizens'. Punishing US citizens? Of course, while that has not been the intent, it's been the effect. One citizen was prohibited from going bike riding in Cuba. My heart bleeds for her. The poor thing didn't realize there have been over 2 million Cubans exiled in 50 years, tens of thousands estimated to have died at sea trying to escape anything resembling the bike path she wanted to ride, thousands executed with hardly a trial, hundreds in prison for standing up for the same rights the US Bill of Rights happens to protect (let alone the Cuban Constitution trampled upon by back to back tyrants, the first of which was supported by the US while the second, these congressmen wish could be). Surely Joan the bikerider did not watch yesterday as the suddenly generous tyranny (undoubtedly driven by the pending vote by the US Congress) allowed an unprecedented 1 minute of free speech to each of 10 protesters wanting to speak to the tourist crowd surrounded by State Security. Yes, 1 whole minute of the same free speech you have and for the first time in their lifetimes, but not on Cuba's streets. Surely she is not aware that concurrent to this event, 5 other Cuban dissidents were (and remain) under siege in their own house by State Security; or that they aren't permitted to obtain nutrients to continue their liquid fast, begun in February to reclaim their crushed human rights. But perhaps she is aware and the congressmen are too.

How can someone be so perversely selfish to argue that the one being punished is the American who is not allowed to ride her bike in this country which, with US cooperation, has been under the siege of one tyrant since 1952, and without it of another since 1959? What does she and the Congressmen want? That the US begin cooperating with the Castro tyranny just as it did with Batista? It sure didn't work then. Why should it work now?

The cynical charade staged by these US Congressmen didn't end here; it only got worst.

Next we heard about the American punished for traveling to Cuba to distribute bibles. This Joan may remind you of those that claimed that God perhaps willed the Iraq invasion to get rid of those WMDs that were never found. Why didn't she send bibles by international mail like others? Why didn't she try donating them to a US Christian church so they could distribute it through their Cuban affiliate? Did she finally send them (good!) or did she scream? No Fidel, suit yourselves, then no bibles!

Then the pro-Cuba-travel-rights warriors lament over the picture of a Cuban American Iraq veteran who was prohibited from visiting his dying father. Wait. Wasn't it agreed upon last week that Cuban Americans wouldn't be penalized for traveling to Cuba? In addition, couldn't he, since he also holds Cuban citizenship, have gone through Mexico or any other country?

They then continue with the heart breaking story of still another Cuban American, a nostalgic father who wants his US son to visit his country of birth. Surely he has that right but why did he leave? Have any of the reasons changed? In any case,why shouldn't his son be able to go now given the new budget legislation passed last week?

No, no pictures, audio or video of Antúnez and 4 dissidents whose home is under siege right now or of political prisoners and protesters were shown. That's enemy propaganda.

Instead they decided to insult the intelligence of US citizens, including Cuban Americans by arguing that US tourists are the ones who are going to bring significant democratic change to Cuba and quickly. What exactly are these tourists going to do? Have a talk with Fidel with a picture of the Statue of Liberty hanging from their necks? Or perhaps all of those bike rides will do it one way or another? Yes, the pain will soon be over for those Cuban protesters and political prisoners. Just wait until the American tourists arrive with their cameras asking for autographs. Too bad the 2 million or so Canadian, Spaniards, European and Latin American tourists didn't think of that first.

The litany could not end without begging for our sympathy for those humanitarian exchange groups. Like the ones in Berkeley perhaps? I recall once attempting to support a free speech protest in Berkeley only to be virtually kicked out by one activist lecturing me that it was 'for progressives only' and another much older one assuring me that free speech was meant only for Marxists. Now, what is it they want to go to Cuba to exchange?

Finally they treated us to their best blow: Castro doesn't want the US to lift the embargo. Nope. The truth of the matter is he doesn't want Americans travelling to Cuba and providing him with $3-10 billion dollars annually. So let's use reverse psychology. Let's call his bluff. Let's give him those billions of dollars and the tourists too. Americans: will we teach him a lesson he'll never forget.

Send this post to your congressman. Standing up for the human rights of Cubans is standing for the rights of all. Don't buy the double standard they are peddling. Do unto others as you would want them to do onto you.

Here's the video. Enjoy if you can.

Tomorrow I'll try to respond to the China objection and perhaps more. Please stay tuned.