Diplomatic showdown at the UN as Cuba interrupts US meeting

Cuban diplomats interrupt UN event

This wasn’t the “Missiles of October,” the famed nuclear showdown between Cuba and the United States in 1962, but tensions between the two countries were impossible to ignore at the United Nations Tuesday afternoon.

A US event meant to highlight the plight of Cuba’s political prisoners was drowned out by the noise of Cuban diplomats banging on tables and voices screaming, “Cuba yes, blockade no” across a large conference room, a reference to the US economic embargo against the island nation.

Cuban diplomats were using both hands to slap the rectangular table while others were yelling in Spanish, and although US Ambassador Kelley Currie repeatedly asked for security, officers stood watching the protest without intervening. Why? Because the protesters were accredited UN diplomats from Cuba, and yelling diplomats cannot be physically restrained based on UN security protocols.

The United States may be considered the most powerful member — financially and diplomatically — at the United Nations, but despite its status, security would not step into the fray.
The near 90-minute meeting was met with the sound of dissent by Cuban diplomats, with panelists trying their best not to acknowledge the uproar.

“I was ready to end the proceedings, but I’m damned if I’m going to do it for you. So I can sit here all day and let you shout yourselves silly,” Ambassador Michael Kozak told the protesters. Kozak, of the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, moderated a panel after Currie’s remarks.

“I have never in my life seen diplomats behave in the way the Cuban delegation did today,” Currie, the US representative on the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, told reporters after leaving the conference room, calling protesters actions “shocking and disturbing.”
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Cuba’s jailing of political prisoners is an ‘affront’ to democracy, U.S. says

Associated Press

The United States said Cuba is jailing 130 political prisoners in a “blatant affront” to fundamental democratic freedoms, but the Cuban ambassador to the United Nations said Monday that the U.S. lacks the moral authority to teach other countries such lessons given what she calls the Trump administration’s “agenda of supremacist, racist, and xenophobic ideas.”
The U.S. plans to formally launch a campaign Tuesday at the United Nations called “Jailed for What?” holding Cuba’s regime responsible for human-rights violations.
In a statement released Sunday, Cuban Ambassador Anayansi Rodriguez Camejo demanded that U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres cancel the event. She said the U.S. had itself violated human rights, especially in the use of torture, detention, and “arbitrary deprivation of liberty” at its Guantánamo military base, where terrorism suspects have been held for years. She also pointed to U.S. immigration policies that have separated parents and children. “The United States lacks the morals to give lessons, much less in this matter,” Camejo said.
On Monday, the Cuban diplomat used stronger language to reject the “Jailed for What?” campaign, telling the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, that the United States “lacks any moral authority to judge Cuba, when its current administration drives an agenda of supremacist, racist, and xenophobic ideas.”
During Tuesday’s launch of the political-prisoner campaign, Kelley E. Currie, the U.S. representative on the U.N. Economic and Social Council, plans to focus on an estimated 130 Cuban prisoners as “an explicit sign of the repressive nature of the Cuban regime,” said a statement released by the U.S. State Department last week. Those being held “represent a blatant affront to the fundamental freedoms that the United States and many other democratic governments support,” it said.
Currie added that the Cuban people’s “aspirations to live in freedom are key components of President Trump’s National Security Presidential Memorandum of 2017.”
The State Department said the Cuban government is silencing its people with “arbitrary detention and specious charges.”
The Cuban regime calls the “Jailed for What?” campaign part of the Trump administration’s escalation of anti-Cuban actions.
Camejo said U.N. space is reserved for events directly relevant to the organization’s work and Tuesday’s gathering would violate the U.N. charter. On Monday, U.N. officials said only that they would meet with Cuban diplomats to discuss their concerns.
Michael Kozak — of the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor — is scheduled to moderate a discussion on the Cuban detainees.

Cuba Holds the Keys to Venezuela

Fernando Alban, the allegedly murdered Venezuelan dissident

The Wall Street Journal   By Mary Anastasia O’Grady

A political prisoner is killed Castro-style in Caracas by state intelligence agents.

Venezuela is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Cuba’s 59-year-old military dictatorship. Without the full support of Cuba’s sophisticated intelligence and advanced police-state methods, Venezuela’s chavismo would have been overthrown years ago.
Mr. Corker should have known that calling on Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro was worse than a waste of time and taxpayer resources. It was a favor to the Castro regime—yes, Raul still runs things—which for years has been promoting “dialogue” with the U.S. and the European Union as a way of buying time to tighten its grip on its satellite, Venezuela.
On the day of Mr. Corker’s visit, Fernando Alban, a member of the Venezuelan opposition, was eliminated in what had all the earmarks of a political murder. The 56-year-old Mr. Alban had been arrested at Simón Bolívar International airport in Maiquetía by security agents on Oct. 5. Three days later he died at the Caracas headquarters of Venezuela’s state intelligence agency, an arm of Cuban intel.
The dictatorship alleges that Alban, a devout Catholic, committed suicide by jumping out a 10-story window. Catholics believe suicide is a grievous sin. According to Alban’s friends and family, he never would have contemplated it.
Moreover, as one of Alban’s political allies asked in a series of rhetorical questions in the online Panam Post, aren’t the windows of the Sebin building sealed and the prisoners handcuffed? As to jumping from a bathroom window, a former prisoner who was held in that building has said two policemen always escorted him to the restroom.
Alban’s mysterious death while in custody bears a sordid resemblance to the fate of many a Cuban who refused to bend to the Castro regime, which has perfected the art of creatively disposing of dissidents. In 2011 Laura Pollan, leader of the Ladies in White, died of an inexplicable infection. Oswaldo Payá, winner of the prestigious Sakharov Prize, was killed in a 2012 car crash when the vehicle he was riding in was run off the road.
Denying water to political prisoners on hunger strikes causes kidney failure, which is how the Cuban regime killed Pedro Luis Boitel in 1972 and Orlando Zapata in 2010; the all-purpose “heart attack” strikes unexpectedly. Death by “suicide” is a police-state favorite.
Alban was a close friend of opposition leader Julio Borges, who is in exile in Colombia. According to the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, Alban’s friends say state security wanted its prisoner to finger Mr. Borges as the intellectual author of a drone attack against Mr. Maduro at a military parade in August.
Allegations of torture have emerged. William Jiménez, an official at the morgue where Alban’s body was taken, alleges in an online video that the autopsy found water in his lungs. Colombian news outlet NTN 24 wrote about the video, noting that Mr. Jiménez also claims that Venezuela’s minister of the interior ordered that the report remove that information. Mr. Jiménez is now in hiding.
A transparent postmortem would have resolved such questions. But requests for independent doctors to be on the scene were ignored. The El Mundo story cited former Venezuelan attorney general Luisa Ortega, who is also in exile and says she has “information, from inside,” that Alban drowned while being tortured.
A forthcoming research paper on “Cuba’s intervention in Venezuela” by Maria C. Werlau, executive director of the nonprofit Cuba Archives, traces the history of Cuba’s conquest. She notes that in 2007 the head of Cuba’s “committees to defend the revolution” claimed that they had more than 30,000 members in Venezuela. In November 2017 the Spanish news outlet EFE reported from Havana that Cuba officially claimed to have 46,000 civilians working in “almost 20 social programs” in Venezuela.
Ms. Werlau’s research indicates that many of these “collaborators” are paramilitaries masquerading as social workers. Also, Cuban doctors she interviewed said they were told, before they left on missions to Venezuela, that “they must be ready to, at any time, take arms ‘to defend the revolution.’ ”
Add to these “missions” Cuban military and security agents, and estimates for the total revolutionary infiltration run as high as 100,000. Cuba also controls tens of thousands of trained and armed Venezuelan gang members who terrorize the population with impunity.
Ms. Werlau observes that the numbers aren’t nearly as important as Cuba’s “strategically-placed assets guarding every aspect of society and an all-encompassing electronic command of information, communications, and citizens’ data.” From passports to property titles to the electoral system, Venezuelan sovereignty has been surrendered to Cuba, which, Mr. Corker might bear in mind, is a close ally of Iran, North Korea and Syria.

Millionaire actor Robert de Niro organized a party in New York for Raúl Castro’s puppet

“Good neighbors do not build walls, let culture help build bridges,” De Niro told Raul Castro’s puppet, representative of a regime that has imprisoned hundreds of Cuban artists for defending their right to free expression.
Among the US ‘artists’ present at the party with the representative of the Cuban dictatorship were Harry Belafonte, singer and poet Patti Smith, actress and model Dakota Johnson, actress Katie Holmes, composer Chris Martin, leader of the band Coldplay, painter Jose Parlá, Executive Vice President of Tribeca Paula Weinstein, and the rappers Nas and Q-Tip.

Looking at the face of actress Katie Holmes, her meeting with Diaz Canel was love at first sight. I wonder how long that love would last if she had to live in Cuba under Diaz Canel’s and his master brutal rule.

The Castro puppet also met on Friday with senior executives of the US Chamber of Commerce and the US travel industry.
As far as Cuba is concerned, not much has changed since Obama left the White House.

Be careful when you invite criminal dictators to eat at your restaurant

One week after the celebrity chef known as “Salt Bae” was seen preparing an expensive meal for Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro at his Istanbul restaurant , while kids in Venezuela are dying from starvation, a fires show at the restaurant went terribly wrong and 4 tourists were severely injured.

The Daily Mail

Four tourists are seriously injured in hospital after a flame show went wrong at the restaurant of the celebrity chef known as ‘Salt Bae’ in Turkey.
Footage taken by a diner at the Nusret Etiler Steakhouse in Istanbul captures the catastrophic moment a bartender pours an unidentified liquid onto the fire, at which point the whole bar explodes into flames.
At the start of the film, restaurant guests are seated at the bar just feet away from the flame show. The fire, which ran along the full length of the bar, appears to be under control.
Then two restaurant staff pour on a liquid which causes the whole ridge to ignite as a ball of fire leaps across the bar.
A police investigation has been launched and the two employees responsible for the show are believed to have been questioned in relation to the incident
Czech Republic tourist Krisryna Tresnakova was badly burned when her dress caught fire during the show on Thursday evening.
Witnesses described how the woman and her boyfriend Viktor Hajicek, CEO of Tresnakova in a Hong Kong-based company, suddenly being engulfed in flames.
Tresnakova’s injuries were reported as serious, while Hajick also suffered minor injuries to his face and body.
Hajick told a Birgun newspaper: ‘This happened last night. We went to a hospital right after the incident.
‘I have some burns, but my girlfriend Krisryna Tresnakova is much worse than me.
‘The event is very new and I’m not in a position to give more information now. We’ve had a nightmare night and it’s still going on.’
Viktor Hajicek, CEO of Tresnakova in a Hong Kong-based company (centre), was taken to Sisli Etfal Hospital for treatment. Tresnakova has now been transferred elsewhere for surgery
Greek tourist Alexandros Severıs, who is on his honeymoon, and Ummani tourist Mohammed Khamıs Salim were also injured.
Three were initially taken to Sisli Etfal Hospital for treatment by ambulance and the fourth was taken via a vehicle owned by the restaurant.
Tresnakova has since been transferred to American Hospital in Istanbul for surgery. The condition of the other three victims is understood to be less serious.
Two members of staff from the restaurant were also injured according to local media reports. However, their injuries are not believed to be serious.
Eyewitness accounts published by local media state that at around 9.30pm local time flames lit by the bartenders quickly got out of control and jumped across the bar, before igniting on Tresnakova’s dress.
Attempts by staff to put out the blaze with water only fuelled it further.
A police investigation has been launched and the two employees responsible for the show are believed to have been questioned in relation to the incident.
MailOnline has contacted Salt Bae and the Nusret Etiler Steakhouse for comment.

Helms–Burton Act of 1996 and Export to Cuba

US Corporations have exported $291.3 Million dollars to Cuba for the calendar year 2017 and $198 Million dollars from January through July 2018.  You can review the figures for all exports from 1992 to the present at the United States Census Bureau

Please respond to our poll on your sentiments on continuing the Helms–Burton Act of 1996, strengthening or allowing full trade.

This is a list of some of the United States-based companies that have exported products from the United States to Cuba since December 2001. Depending upon the company, products have included agricultural commodities, food products and healthcare products.

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What Sanctions? Venezuela’s Maduro, Cuban ‘President’ Speak in Harlem Church

Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro and Miguel Díaz-Canel, subordinate president to Cuban dictator Raúl Castro, both addressed a church in Harlem, New York, on Wednesday, despite an embargo on the latter’s country and personal sanctions on Maduro.

The speeches, which took place Wednesday evening at Harlem’s Riverside Church, took place before a sympathetic crowd. The details of the event remain a mystery as Cuban state police banned journalists from covering it.

“I participated in an emotional act at Riverside Church in Harlem, along with my brother President Miguel Diaz-Canel,” Maduro wrote on Twitter. “We ratify the love and commitment of the Venezuelan people to the Cuban community in New York. Thank you for your solidarity!”

The event occurred under tight security. Cuban state police forced journalists from The Miami Herald and The New York Times to leave the building. According to the Miami Herald, Cuban state security agents intimidated the reporters and chased them out of the church, following them even as they left the building.

“The fact that our reporter was thrown out is not surprising, given the Cuban government’s history of denying us journalists’ visas to cover news out of that country,” said Aminda Marqués Gonzalez, executive editor of El Nuevo Herald and the Miami Herald. “But it’s shameful that it happened at an event in the United States and, more importantly, a missed opportunity for coverage given that we have the largest bilingual audience with an interest in Cuba issues.”

During his speech, Diaz-Canal blamed the Trump administration for their rolling back of sanctions relieved as part of Barack Obama’s ‘”Cuban Thaw,” claiming it caused the “deprivation of Cuban families.”

“As everyone knows, our bilateral relationship with the United States continues to be characterized, above all, by the economic blockade that constitutes a fundamental obstacle to the development and well-being of Cubans, and causes the deprivation of Cuban families,” he declared.

Following the implementation of Obama’s policy, the Castro regime sharply escalated its repression of pro-democracy voices on the island, extending its weekly violent crackdown on the women’s group known as the Ladies in White.

Continue reading What Sanctions? Venezuela’s Maduro, Cuban ‘President’ Speak in Harlem Church

Top lawmakers in US Congress push tough new measures against Venezuela

Venezuela’s  Nicolas Maduro greets guests at the National Electoral Council on May 22, 2018 Ariana Cubillos AP

Lawmakers will unveil a $58 million plan Monday that would force the Trump administration to push harder to isolate the Venezuelan government and restore democracy.

The plan would be the most comprehensive proposal on Venezuela taken up by Congress. It is already drawing comparisons to the controversial Helms-Burton Act signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996 shortly after Cuba shot down two civilian American planes that directed tens of millions of dollars toward democratic reforms.

The overarching Venezuela plan includes financial penalties against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, increases diplomatic pressure on regional allies to also take action and offers tens of millions in humanitarian aid to Venezuelans inside and outside the country.

“As millions flee repression, hunger and destitution at home, Nicolás Maduro’s criminal regime has turned Venezuela into a failed state with implications across the region,” said Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J. “With Venezuela’s humanitarian catastrophe growing daily, Maduro betrays his citizens’ most urgent needs, while his inner circle plunders state coffers and profits from drug trafficking.”

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Amnesty: Venezuela murder toll worse than some war zones

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AFP) — Amnesty International (AI) hit out yesterday at the repression by Nicolas Maduro’s Government in Venezuela, saying that more people were murdered in the South American country than in some war zones.

Opponents have accused Maduro’s regime of the authoritarian oppression of any dissident voices during a four-year recession that has left 87 per cent of the population living in poverty, according to a group of leading universities.

Amnesty’s report highlighted violence carried out by security forces during operations against criminals in impoverished neighborhoods of Venezuela’s biggest cities.

“State officials, adopting military methods, use force in an abusive and excessive manner, in some cases intentionally killing during security operations,” said human rights defense organization, Amnesty, in a statement.

“In cases documented by AI, victims were unarmed. Autopsies revealed bullet wounds in the neck, throat, head. They were killed while on their knees or lying down,” said Esteban Beltran, director of Amnesty International Spain.

“The number of murders in Venezuela is greater than those in many countries at war.”

Venezuela’s murder rate is 89 per 100,000 inhabitants, three times more than crime-wracked neighbour Brazil, said Mariana Fontoura Marques, director of international justice policy at Amnesty International Argentina.

Insecurity “was one of the major reasons Venezuelans gave for leaving the country,” she added.

Food and medicine shortages and hyperinflation the International Monetary Fund says will reach one million per cent this year have also contributed to the mass exodus.

The United Nations says some 1.6 million people have left Venezuela since 2015, heaping pressure on several nearby countries struggling to deal with a mass influx of migrants.

Could this be a solution?

The dictators meet

The failure of the 21st Century communist/socialist experiment, that the Castro’s, Hugo Chavez and their inheritors have so touted, is the result of a socio-political system, that controlled economic experiment through fear and repression. This has led to strangling of these economies. Disastrously,  these two promising countries never been allowed to fully develop to their potential.

The deaths of Castro and Chavez have generated a polite response in some media venues. However, the media  fails to mention that Cuba has left 11 million people grossly poorer than they ought to be, in the name of a bankrupt ideology. This is not the stuff of which biographic obituaries are made.

The failure of the Bay of Pigs operation turned all Cuban-Americans against the Democratic party in future voting and placed their hopes of a free Cuba on  the Republicans. Venezuelans that have settled in the US have also backed  the same party. The  outcome from both parties has had the identical result.

New elections are coming soon in the US and both the Cubans and the Venezuelans have a say, especially in the State of Florida. This would be a decisive vote for the Presidential run, and therein lies the possible solution to the problem of Cuba and Venezuela.

The Chinese and the Russians have lost the desire to pay the bills for these two countries, and of course Venezuela’s generosity to Cuba was greatly degraded when high oil prices collapsed in 2014. The glory days have been over for a long time; all that matters today is survival.

The international community has implemented some sanctions against Maduro’s dictatorship. But this will produce little effect in Caracas. Washington must impose oil-related restrictions by forbidding oil exports and imports to and from Venezuela, freezing the assets of Pdvsa owned Citco and attaining the support of the Latin American and European countries. These nations must implement similar measures. The U.S. should not go it alone as doing so would play into Maduro’s rhetoric.

Continue reading Could this be a solution?