Inside Marco Rubio’s Cuba—The Way He Sees It


Fox Business

President Obama has made historic steps towards restoring relations with Cuba after nearly a half-century of diplomatic freeze. But Republican Presidential hopeful and Cuban-American Marco Rubio says these new policies will be short-lived once he takes office.

“When I’m President, the U.S. will not diplomatically recognize the Cuban government. I would honor the Cuban Democracy Act, which is pre-existing law that governs our relationship with Cuba and says that in order for U.S. policy to change the Cuban government must make changes too,” Rubio tells in an interview.

As the son of Cuban immigrants, he says the changes that are happening are actually a bitter moment for many of his people who grew up in and around the Cuban exile community.

“It is as if we have now agreed that Castro and oppression get to stay. It would be one thing if this was part of a change in our policies in exchange for a change in Cuban policies, but this is a unilateral change. We are changing toward Cuba, but Cuba isn’t changing toward us or its people. For many, it feels like we are accepting that the Cuban people forever will have to live under a repressive government,” he says.

Obama announced earlier this summer that the United States will formally re-establish diplomatic relations with the Republic of Cuba, and will re-open embassies in each other’s countries. He said that the efforts to isolate Cuba despite our good intentions had the opposite effects and it ended up isolating us from our neighbors.

“On issues of common interest – like counterterrorism, disaster response, and development – we will find new ways to cooperate with Cuba.  And I’ve been clear that we will also continue to have some very serious differences.  That will include America’s enduring support for universal values, like freedom of speech and assembly, and the ability to access information.  And we will not hesitate to speak out when we see actions that contradict those values,” Obama said in a statement back in July.

Rubio, a first-term Florida Senator who was born in the U.S., says he represents all the Cuban exiles who wanted a better life, especially his grandfather who would tell him stories about life in Cuba for hours on the porch.

“In his stories, I sensed that he wondered what he could have achieved had he been born in a different time and place,” he said.

“My grandfather loved this country and he never took it for granted, because he knew what life was like outside of it. He knew first-hand that for almost all of human history, economic prosperity belonged primarily to those born into families with power and influence. And he knew America was different because it was founded on the belief that every human being has a God given right to pursue a happy life. It put in place a free enterprise economy that rewards merit and work rather than social status and privilege.”
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Another bloody Sunday in Cuba: More than 300 dissidents arrested and beaten

Yriade Hernández Aguilera, a member of UNPACU, was one of the dissidents severely beaten by Castro's police
Yriade Hernández Aguilera, a member of UNPACU, was one of the dissidents severely beaten by Castro’s police

More than 300 dissidents were arrested and beaten this Sunday during protests that took place in Havana, Santiago de Cuba and several other Cuban cities,

Most of the dissidents arrested, approximately 224 of them, belonged to Unión Patriótica Cubana (UNPACU), according to a report from the organization.
UNPACU is one of the most active dissident groups inside the island.

The protesters on Sunday were demanding the release of three members of UNPACU who were arrested when they tried to speak to Pope Francis during his visit to the island.
The three remain under arrest even thought they have not been charged with any crime.

Several members of the Ladies In White were also arrested in Havana during their customary Sunday march after attending Mass.

Images: Cuban Dissidents Launch Protest at Castro’s Justice Ministry

Via Capitol Hill Cubans


On Thursday, a group of courageous Cuban dissidents launched a protest at the Castro regime’s Ministry of Justice in Havana.

They threw hundreds of small flyers throughout the premises reading “Long Live Human Rights” and “Down with the Dictatorship.”

The dissidents were quickly arrested. Their identities and whereabouts remain unknown.

Government agents then meticulously picked up the “threatening” flyers one-by-one.

You Will Not Like Cuba – Media Hype Sells Product That Does Not Exist


By Luis H. Ball ipublisher of the PanAm Post

During the early days after the fall of the Berlin Wall, several national media outlets in the United States published articles referring to East Germany as “the most advanced of the Eastern European economies,” vaunting its bright future after communism as the country, we were told, possessed “advanced industries” in optics and a highly productive workforce. Soon afterwards it became clear that the authors of these articles had foolishly believed the lies spread by Communist East Germany’s vaunted propaganda machine.

The reality was starkly different. East German factories were only good to be used as scrap metal for the modern smelters of West German industrial giants such as Krupp or Thyssen. There was zero advanced technology in East Germany; the country’s infrastructure was comparable to that of a poor Third-World nation; the pollution of the cities was terrifying; and most of the countryside had turned into a giant hazardous waste dump.

Twenty five years later, East Germany remains poorer than the western side of the country, which never lived under communism. It will probably take another 25 years before the damage caused by decades of rule by a thuggish, murderous, totalitarian communist clique can be fully reversed.

One wonders how supposedly professional newsmen who were assigned by their publications to cover that part of the world could have been so blind and so wrong. Without doubt, some praised the supposed East German paradise with careful and well-thought-out lines, designed to hide their true political leanings. Others were evidently fooled by ignoring a fact well known to anybody who has lived in a police state: nobody dares to tell the truth.

The well-intentioned and honest reporters actually believed what they were being told by “the man on the street,” who was always full of praise for his country, even if he knew better. Years of living with the East German secret police, the infamous Stasi, had inculcated into everyone the fear of telling the truth, particularly to a foreigner. Vaclav Havel, the late hero and former president of the Czech Republic put it best: “The first victim of communism is the truth.”
Continue reading You Will Not Like Cuba – Media Hype Sells Product That Does Not Exist

Inside the Cuban Hospitals That Castro Doesn’t Want Tourists to See – Island’s “World-Class” Health Care Is a Myth Wrapped in Propaganda



By the time I climbed the steps of the emergency room entrance in San Miguel, Havana, I could already tell that the supposed first-class health care provided in Cuba was a myth. Hospitals in the island’s capital are literally falling apart.

Friends told me to dress “like a Cuban” and not to speak while inside, since my Argentinean accent would give me away the moment I said hello. A member of the opposition Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU) party came along to guide me in my journey to the core of communist-style medicine.

The only available restroom in the Havana hospital had a single, dirty toilet.

We entered the hospital at 10 p.m. on an ordinary Saturday night in September. Three out of the hospital’s four stories were closed. Only the ER was operational.

“We have been waiting for an ambulance for four hours,” yelled a man wearing green scrubs, who seemed to be a doctor. I sat on one of the four plastic chairs in the waiting area. My friend kept still and gestured to let me know I should remain silent and listen to the patients and their relatives.

Twenty minutes went by, and still no ambulance. The man in green scrubs remained at his mother’s side on an improvised stretcher, trying not to lose his patience. They looked like characters from the play Waiting for Godot.

The scarce equipment available gave the building the appearance of a makeshift medical camp, rather than a hospital in the nation’s capital.

I stood up and continued my tour. Two nurses stared at us but didn’t say a word as we entered an intensive-care unit, where the facility’s air-conditioned area began.

My guide — a taxi driver for tourists who don’t get to see this part of town — told me that all the doctors working the night shift are still in school. Indeed, none of them appeared to be older than 25.

Without an adequate staff on site, relatives must push hospital stretchers themselves.

The only working bathroom in the entire hospital had only one toilet. The door didn’t close, so you had to go with people outside watching. Toilet paper was nowhere to be found, and the floor was far from clean.

I saw biological waste discarded in a regular trash can. The beds had no linen, and the only equipment around was the bag of IV fluids hanging above them. All doctor’s offices had handwritten signs on the doors, and at least four patients waited outside each room. The average wait time for each was around three hours.

Orderlies were also nowhere to be seen. A young man had to push his mother on a stretcher until he reached the line of those waiting for an ambulance.

I left the hospital after a couple hours. Once outside, puzzled by the large bags the people entering the hospital were carrying, I asked my friend to explain.

“Well, they have to bring everything with them, because the hospital provides nothing. Pillows, sheets, medicine: everything,” he said.

Differing Perspectives

Cuba’s Public Health Ministry runs all hospitals in the country and is in charge of centrally dictating public-health policies. The socialized medical system, delivered at no charge to Cuban patients, is a key propaganda tool of the Castro regime.

“Since the triumph of the Revolution, making sure that Cubans have free health care has become a fundamental social cornerstone,” Granma, the Communist Party’s official media outlet, boasts in an article. “This is in line with the humanism and social justice of our revolutionary process.”

Socialists and progressives outside of Cuba have also been known to gush over the island’s state-run health-care system.

Trays with leftover food are left behind in the hospital room.

In 2007, filmmaker Michael Moore released a documentary that featured US citizens who traveled to Cuba to get free medical treatment. Moore claimed they received services comparable to what ordinary Cuban citizens would have received.

“The Cuban people have free universal health care. They’ve become known as having not only one of the best health-care systems, but as being one of the most generous countries in providing doctors and medical equipment to third-world countries,” Moore says in Sicko.

Yilian Jiménez Expósito, general director of Cuban Medical Services, told Granma in an interview that “the secret lies in the medical training under a socialist system, where doctors do not view the patient as merchandise or a customer; where every citizen has a right to health care from birth to the grave, without discrimination.”

However, Hilda Molina, a Cuban neurosurgeon who turned against Castro, explained in an interview with El Cato that the whole sector is under tight government control, which shuts downs private alternatives or independent organizations.

Cubans must bring their own pillows and bed sheets for their hospital stay

“These arbitrary measures, aside from many other negative consequences, had a terrible impact, ethically: the sacred doctor-patient relationship was replaced with an impersonal government-patient dynamic. When patients are forced to seek care from government-sanctioned doctors and facilities, they suffer distress, whether consciously or unconsciously, immersed in a deep sensation of insecurity,” she said.

“The regime has neither provided Cubans with equality nor fairness in health care. The ruling elite, their relatives and friends, get better service than the rest,” Molina lamented.

Venezuela’s Censorship Goes from Bad to Worse



The state of free speech in Venezuela has worsened over the last year, and the few remaining independent media outlets are under attack by the government. This according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), which convened its 71st General Assembly of the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) in South Carolina on Friday, October 2.

The event gathered over 300 press workers and culminated on October 6, after five days of sessions focused on the “wave of censorship” spreading across the Americas. During the meeting, IAPA Regional Vice President Asdrúbal Aguiar introduced four resolutions urging the General Assembly to condemn the Venezuelan government for its violations of free speech.

The resolutions single out Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and National Assembly Chairman Diosdado Cabello as the nation’s “primary killers of free press and the concealment of public information.”

Furthermore, Aguiar called for the release of Venezuelan political prisoners and the creation of an international committee to observe the upcoming legislative elections.

The IAPA concludes that the government of Venezuela is currently “establishing totalitarian control over the media,” including “efforts to criminalize the work of journalists” and restricting access to information.

So far this year, the Press and Society Institute (IPYS) has documented 287 free-speech violations in Venezuela, with at least 237 of them directed at foreign or regional media. Such is the case with news outlets La Patilla, Tal Cual, and El Nacional, which each face a multimillion-dollar lawsuit from Diosdado Cabello for alleged “moral damages.”

Cabello filed suit after the outlets republished information, initially reported by Spanish daily ABC, that suggested the National Assembly chairman is connected to drug trafficking and is a prominent member of the Soles Cartel.

Social Media: A Double-Edged Sword

According to the Venezuelan Criminal Forum, the Maduro administration has jailed 31 people for participating in anti-government protests, and six for criticizing officials on social media.

Sunday, October 4, marked one year in jail for Inés González Arraga, a vocal critic of Chavismo on Twitter.

The government accused González of “cyber-terrorism” after she posted tweets regarding the murder of ruling-party Congressman Robert Serra.

e was charged with public incitement, assault on a public official, and violent assault.

In July, González’s sister claimed police officers beat Inés when they transferred her to a military hospital.

Venezuelan authorities are holding Inés inside the Bolivarian Intelligence Service in Caracas. Doctors have diagnosed the young activist with ovarian cancer and say she will need a complete hysterectomy.

González’s case, however, is not an isolated incident, and several other Venezuelans have landed in jail over posts on social media. Victor Ugas spent eight months in prison for tweeting a picture of Serra’s body at the Bello Monte morgue. The police charged him with “cybercrime.”

Police also arrested Ginette Hernández, and her uncle Lessy Hernández, for tweeting that the National Assembly “would be in mourning” weeks prior to Serra’s death.

While the Venezuelan government has been unable to prove that the congressman’s murder was politically motivated, it has nevertheless targeted social-media users who have mentioned his name.

So far, police have arrested 11 suspects in the case, including former Councilman Julio Vélez, who they allege is the mastermind. However, prosecutors have not charged Vélez with homicide, but with forging and using public documents, hiding a weapon, and hiding ammunition.

Why Flee Equality? Collectivism’s “Greater Good” Subjugates the Individual

Cuban migrants are seen on a raft before being rescued by members of Mexico's Navy (SEMAR) in Progreso, in the state of Yucatan

By José Azel PanAmPost

When discussing the exodus of peoples from communist regimes such as Cuba’s, it is common practice to describe their escape as a flight from oppression, or a search for freedom.

These labels are evocative and correct, but in order to deepen our understanding of the root causes for this migration, it is also helpful to think of it as a flight from equality. Fleeing equality is a provocative description that also contributes intellectually to our current political discussion of inequality.

Collectivist ideologies are based on the idea that an individual’s life does not belong to the individual, but to the society to which he belongs. The individual is not recognized as having any rights, and must forgo his values for the group’s “greater good.”

Communist thinking identifies the collective as the central unit of moral concern. In the collectivist view of morality, man has no rights except those which society permits him to enjoy.

In contrast, classical liberalism holds that each individual is morally an end in himself and has a moral right to act according to his own judgment free from government’s coercion. In this way, individualism has driven innovation, the agricultural and industrial revolutions, and the most inspiring explosion in wealth creation and poverty reduction the world has ever witnessed.

Notwithstanding its unparalleled track record reducing poverty, individualism — which is essentially our quest for personal freedom — has been castigated by collectivist thinkers as a selfish philosophy to be replaced by state-imposed egalitarianism. And yet, it is precisely that forced equality that those fleeing communist societies seek to escape. Freedom is individual, not collective.

Cubans fleeing that tragic island have already experienced the devastating moral and economic consequences of collectivist policies that seek to craft an egalitarian society — a failed experiment that sought to create a “new man” that would be communal in outlook and sacrificial for the common good. That experiment resulted in an economically bankrupt dystopian society featuring enormously repressive social-control systems and a government with unlimited power over its citizens.

To be clear, the equality that millions flee from is the equality of economic outcomes imposed by the ruling class. They reject the egalitarianism which, in some ways, underpins calls for income redistribution in the United States. Income redistribution proponents fail to acknowledge that when we confiscate a person’s wealth, we directly violate his freedom.

It is not callous to explain that, by definition, at any given time in a free society, 20 percent of the population will be in the lowest quintile of income (the poor), and 20 percent will be in the highest quintile of income (the wealthy). But in an expanding free-market economy, income will increase for both quintiles. Yes, the rich get richer, but so do the poor.

Just as importantly, in a free-market system, the populations of both quintiles are constantly changing. Studies of income distribution in free-market societies reveal a remarkable degree of income mobility with individuals moving up and down in the income distribution scales as their circumstances change. That is, the quintiles will always be filled by someone, but not always by the same people. Free-market societies offer the opportunity to escape the equality imposed by collectivism.

Thus, one of the attractions of free societies is that they are characterized by what sociologists label as “circulation of elites,” where no one is kept from entering the ranks of the economic elite. Economic elites in market societies are always open to new members, where elites in other societies tend to be static, resting on military power, group membership, or family connection.

Examples abound in market societies of individuals who left behind countries where markets are severely restricted or hampered by special favors for the politically connected, and in one generation have succeeded in joining the upper quintile. Miami showcases the Cuban example.

As we embark on efforts in the United States to redistribute wealth by government edict, it is worth understanding why people flee the equality we are trying to bring about. Social scientist José Benegas defines slavery as the 100 percent expropriation of an individual’s labor. This definition reminds us that appropriating coercively any portion of a person’s income is partial slavery.

Cuba’s Lies with My Own Eyes – Communism’s Failures Up Close and Personal


There is only so much one can know by reading and talking about a nation, without actually going there. Such was my dilemma before making a trip to Cuba in September, aware of the risks to people who work in the media and challenge the regime.
Now, with so many observations to process, I must overcome that same hurdle in communicating to others what I experienced. To gather the initial reaction in depth, my good friend and PanAm Post contributor Yaël Ossowski interviewed me for our podcast.

There is only so much one can know by reading and talking about a nation, without actually going there. Such was my dilemma before making a trip to Cuba in September, aware of the risks to people who work in the media and challenge the regime.

Now, with so many observations to process, I must overcome that same hurdle in communicating to others what I experienced. To gather the initial reaction in depth, my good friend and PanAm Post contributor Yaël Ossowski interviewed me for our podcast.

Even the buildings in Havana’s tourist area, right across from the capital building, show the filth and deterioration of more than half a century of communist rule in Cuba.

Taxi drivers do their best to hustle tourists for a few bucks, which can often see them earning more than Cuba’s medical physicians, who at best make US$50 per month.

With little opportunity, many Cubans resign themselves to their impoverished fate and just sit on the street throughout the day.

The apartments adjacent and connected to the one where I was staying had a pool of cigarette butts between the stairway, which appeared ready to fall in. (PanAm Post)

Above all, and I don’t feel good saying this, I want to convey that the Castros and their criminal allies have made Cuba a nation of lies. Their deceit permeates far and wide, from the socialist propaganda that litters the nation to the misleading tourism advertising that lures foreigners in. While those in charge scapegoat their home-grown problems on the United States and the embargo, the people suffer and the capital, Havana, struggles on as a dirty, smelly, and pitiful ruin of a city.

One can barely walk a block without a tribute to the Castro brothers, Che Guevara, their revolution, and even Hugo Chávez, although what they are to be thanked for remains a mystery. And with internet access almost nonexistent, locals are left with little other than regime-approved media. For newspapers, I saw the Granma, the “official voice” of the Communist Party of Cuba, but that was about it, and I felt sorry for the visibly poor man trying to persuade me that a copy was worth US$1 (a day’s salary there), 25 times what he actually sells it for.

Why anyone would rave about Cuba as a tourist destination and why Marxists abroad parrot praise for the tyrants, perhaps I will never understand. One would think the thousands fleeing on makeshift boats (often perishing), along with Cuba’s top athletes defecting at foreign sporting events, would send the message that it’s no paradise. Apparently the lackeys are too mesmerized by the smokescreen of “free” medical care and education to notice the strongman rule and flagrant disregard for human rights.

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Cuba’s really terrible internet, explained

The internet in Cuba is so bad that Cubans had to invent their own.

A few years ago, some computer gamers based in Havana strung a small web of ethernet cables from house to house so they could play video games together. The network continued to grow quietly, and today it’s called StreetNet: a bootleg internet for Havana with more than 10,000 users. It was an innovation forged by necessity in a country where only 5 percent of citizens have access to the uncensored internet. Watch the video to learn why Cuba’s internet is stuck in 1995.

Internet desert

Cuba has some of the worst internet access in the world, with just 5 percent of Cubans able to access the uncensored web.

Since the communist revolution of 1959, the Castro regime has enforced a strict ban on all forms of information flow that challenge official policy and history. Enforcing such censorship has been relatively easy for an island nation that has a monopoly over all media outlets. But when the internet arrived in the ’90s, it complicated matters for the Castros.


Cuba’s first 64KB/s internet connection came to life in 1996, making it one of the first countries to connect in the Caribbean region. Cuban technicians were resourceful, educated, and motivated to connect the country, which led to a surge in initial infrastructure development.

That surge soon stalled as the government realized the ramifications of allowing such a decentralized and uncontrollable network into the lives of the Cuban people. “The wild colt of new technologies can and must be controlled,” warned Communications Minister Ramiro Valdés in 2007, summing up the regime’s policy toward technology over the previous decade.

Getting online in Cuba

Connecting to the web in Cuba has historically been a matter of money and power. Some government insiders have dial-up internet in their homes. But for the rest of population, getting online has meant paying around $9 for one hour of internet access in state-run internet cafes. This in a place where an average salary is just over $20 per month.

Alternative methods include poaching wireless internet from hotels, which can be done if one person gets his hands on the wifi password and shares it. Many hotels in Havana now have security guards whose responsibility consists of shooing away these internet parasites from the sidewalks and benches surrounding the hotels.
Baby steps

“Cuba is like a pressure cooker. Frustration builds from all the lack of basic freedoms, and eventually the regime has to let out a little steam to keep everyone happy,” says Jose Luis Martinez of Connect Cuba, an advocacy group based in Miami.
In July, the regime let out a little steam by installing 35 wifi hotspots throughout the island. Now, to connect, you can buy an access card for $2, which will give you one hour of access to the uncensored internet. These access cards are usually sold out, which has led to an informal street market where cards go for $3 or $4.

Is this an improvement? Perhaps. But 35 expensive hotspots for 11 million people is certainly not a significant step toward a freer internet. “Imagine if you told the island of Manhattan that they could only access the internet with 35 wifi hotspots. There would be riots in the street,” says Martinez. “This is not progress.”
The hotspots are located in tourist-dense downtown parks, not in places where typical Cubans spend their time. Martinez thinks the regime is creating the facade of progress to quell international criticism. “They are good at playing the international PR game, but this is still a very, very small step,” he says. “I’m not hopeful.”

Continue reading Cuba’s really terrible internet, explained

Obama doesn’t understand why Raúl bites his hand


Carlos Alberto Montaner via Capitol Hill Cubans

In his United Nations speech, Raúl Castro attacked “the blockade,” demanded the return of the base at Guantánamo, and asked for an end to the Radio Martí broadcasts. He defended Nicolás Maduro and Rafael Correa. He sided with el-Assad’s Syria, Iran, Russia, and Puerto Rican independence. He criticized the market economy and, in a heavy-handed flourish, closed with a quote from his brother Fidel, an obligatory gesture in Cuba’s unctuous revolutionary liturgy.

Shortly thereafter, he met with the U.S. president. According to The Washington Post, a somewhat disappointed Obama mentioned to him the overlooked matter of human rights and democracy. There wasn’t even a glimpse of a political opening.

Obama doesn’t understand that, with the Castro brothers, there is no quid pro quo or give-and-take. To the Castros, the socialist model (they constantly repeat this) is perfect, their “democracy” is the best in the planet and the dissidents and the Ladies in White who ask for civil liberties are merely salaried servants of the yanqui embassy, invented by the media, people who deserve to be thrashed.

The Cuban government has nothing to rectify. Let the United States, that imperial power that abuses other nations, rectify. Let capitalism, that system that spreads misery worldwide with its free market, repulsive competition, hurtful inequalities and lack of commiseration, rectify.

To the Castros and their troops of battle-hardened Marxist-Leninists, indifferent to reality, the solution to all evils is in the collectivism managed by army officers, with the Castro family directing the puppet show.

Raúl, Fidel, and all those around them are proud of having created the greatest subversive core in the 1960s, when they founded the Tricontinental and nurtured all the terrorist groups on earth who knocked at their doors or forged their own intelligence services.

They worship the figure of Che, dead as a result of those bloody goings-on and recall with emotion the hundreds of guerrillas they trained or launched against half the planet, including the democracies in Venezuela, Argentina, Colombia, Peru and Uruguay.
Continue reading Obama doesn’t understand why Raúl bites his hand