Noticias: 50 free sites that require no Internet connection
Dec. 7 - A new alternative
communications project is available to Cubans through the site, “ La Singularidad.” Rafael Gonzalez and Jorge Utset, promoters of the site,
spoke on the Marti radio program, 1800 Online.
A web package with 50 sites filled with digital content is available to
Cubans each week via USB drives and CDs. Some sites are a mainstay,
while others are added at the request of various information-hungry
users, the webmasters explained.
Besides downloading, which can be done from anywhere in the world,
including Cuba, the promoters of this project encourage family, friends
and people close to the Cuban cause, to copy these sites in electronic
devices and send them to Cuba as often as possible.
Gonzalez explained that once the CD is installed in the computer or the
USB is hooked up to a cell phone, the user can browse the sites as they
would with a real connection, up to three clicks deep.
To facilitate navigation, the pages have a plain text format and some
pictures. The weight of the videos prevents them from including sites
with a heavy mulitmedia presence, but they are currently working on a
package for video sites only.
Although initially the project aimed to take political content to the
audience on the island, the themes of these websites have diversified,
thanks to feedback from the Cuban public. Now the Cuban people may be
able to peruse a variety of digital publications such as Cosmopolitan
Magazine, El Nuevo Herald, the blog Generation Y, among others.
that brainwashing doesn't work?
Dec. 7 - Elian González after
14 years of brainwashing: "Fidel Castro for me is like a father. I
don't profess to have any religion but if I did my god would be Fidel
Castro. He is like a ship that knew to take his crew on the right path"
talks with Cuba until Mr. Gross is released
Dec. 7 - The Allan Gross
story took a strange turn today.
Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson made the following statement:
"Former U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson has admitted to Newsmax that he
"screwed up" in his 2011 bid to free American Alan Gross, who has been
held in a Cuban prison for four years.
He spoke to the press when it would have been better for him to keep
quiet, he said on Newsmax TV's "Steve Malzberg Show."..."I screwed that
one up," Richardson said.
"I thought we had a deal. I went in and talked to the Cubans. The Cubans
were changing their policy at the last minute."
OK so Gov Richardson thought that we had a deal!
How about this deal?
President Obama should cancel any pending talks, especially visits to
Cuba by US businessmen or public officials.
He should make it very clear that everything is on hold until Mr Gross
is released unconditionally.
We must make it very clear that there is a price for jailing US citizens
for no reason at all.
Mandela, who wanted freedom for his people but supported tyranny in
Cuba, is dead
Dec. 6 - Nelson Mandela died
in South Africa on Thursday at the age of 95.
Mandela spent 27 years in
jail for his fight against apartheid, but never said one word against
apartheid in Cuba, on the contrary, he gave his unconditional support to
the Cuban dictator whom he considered a "great friend."
In my personal opinion, if
you want freedom for your people but support tyranny and slavery for
others, you are not a saint you are a hypocrite.
Great City of Havana
Dec. 5 - "Havana is
like Pompeii and Castro is its Vesuvius.” – Anthony Daniels
Almost every picture I’ve
ever seen of Cuba’s capital shows the city in ruins. Una Noche, the 2012
gut punch of a film directed by Lucy Mulloy, captures in nearly every
shot the savage decay of what was once the Western Hemisphere’s most
So I was stunned when I saw the restored portion of Old Havana for the
It is magnificent. And it covers a rather large area. A person could
wander around there all day, and I did. At first glance you could easily
mistake it for Europe and could kid yourself into thinking Cuba is doing
And yet, photographers
largely ignore it. Filmmakers, too. It must drive Cuba’s ministers of
tourism nuts. Why do you people only photograph the decay? We spent so
much time, effort, and money cleaning up before you got here.
Perhaps the wrecked part of the city—which is to say, most of it—strikes
more people as photogenic. But I don’t think that’s it. The reason
restored Old Havana is ignored by photographers, I believe, is because
it looks and feels fake.
It was fixed up just for tourists. Only communist true believers would
go to Cuba on holiday if the entire capital were still a vast ruinscape.
And since hardly anyone is a communist anymore, something had to be
But it doesn’t look fake because it looks nice. Czechoslovakia was gray
and dilapidated during the communist era, but no one thinks Prague isn’t
authentic now that it’s lovely again. The difference is that the Czechs
didn’t erect a Potemkin façade in a single part of their capital just to
bait tourists. They repaired the entire city because, after the fall of
the communist government, they finally could.
Nothing like that has occurred in Havana. The rotting surfaces of some
of the buildings have been restored, but those changes are strictly
cosmetic. Look around. There’s still nothing to buy. You’ll find a few
nice restaurants and bars here and there, but they’re owned by the state
and only foreigners go there. The locals can’t afford to eat or drink
out because the state caps their salaries at twenty dollars a month.
Restored Old Havana looks and feels no more real than the Las Vegas
version of Venice.
It’s sort of pleasant regardless, but it reeks of apartheid. The
descendents of the people who built this once fabulous city, the ones
who live in it now, aren’t allowed to enjoy it. All they can do is walk
around on the streets outside and peer in through the glass.
The semi-fake renovation is, however, good enough that one thing is
blindingly obvious: If Cuba had free enterprise, and if Americans could
travel there without restrictions, the economy would go supernova.
“The touristy parts of Havana are lovely,” said a friend of mine who has
been there many times and returned home with a Cuban wife a few years
ago. “But if you get out of the bubble and look at the places the
tourist busses don’t go, you will see a different Havana.”
That’s for damn sure.
I walked toward the center of town from the somewhat remote Habana Libre
Hotel and found myself the only foreigner in a miles-wide swath of
destruction. Continue reading
cyber crackdown ensnares Web's Bitly
Dec. 5 - Venezuelans have
been scrambling for dollars for weeks, taking refuge in the greenback as
their own currency is in free fall. Rather than address the economic
imbalances behind the bolivar's plunge, the government is going after
the bearers of the bad news - it's blocking websites people use to track
exchange rates on the black market.
Cyber-activists say the crackdown goes to absurd lengths, even targeting
Bitly, the popular site for shortening Web addresses to make it easier
to send them as links via Twitter and other social media. For more than
two weeks, access to the service has been partially censored by several
Internet service providers in Venezuela, apparently because Bitly was
being used to evade blocks put on currency-tracking websites. we
The New York company says such restrictions have only previously been
seen in China, which has one of the worst records for Internet freedom,
and even then not for such an extended period. Opponents of Venezuela's
socialist government say the controls are designed to obscure reporting
of the nation's mounting economic woes.
"We help connect people with information and insight about their world,"
Bitly CEO Mark Josephson said. "When someone is standing in the way of
that mission, that's not something we feel good about."
Bitly got caught in the crossfire of Venezuela's polarized politics a
month ago, shortly after President Nicolas Maduro decided to block
access to sites such as www.dolartoday.com that publish the black market
rate for the bolivar, which is now 10 times the official rate of 6.3
bolivars per dollar.
Maduro accuses the sites of fueling an "economic war" against his
government, which is facing municipal elections this weekend that will
be its first political test since he narrowly won the presidency in
April following Hugo Chavez's death. Many are also openly critical of
But with the blocks in place, many sites managed to skirt the controls
by migrating to Twitter, keeping hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans
informed of the black market rate by using Bitly to direct traffic to
newly created websites.
telecommunications regulator Conatel sent a letter to Twitter on Nov. 19
asking it to immediately shut all accounts used to violate Venezuela's
currency controls, warning that its failure to do so would be "highly
damaging to the Venezuelan economy." Twitter has ignored the request but
declines to comment on the matter.
Around the same time, Bitly vanished without notice - a least for the
vast majority of Venezuelans who are subscribers to the state-run
service provider, CANTV. As a result, the average number of clicks on
Bitly-generated links has fallen by half to about 1.5 million a day in
Venezuela, Josephson said.
"It's like shutting down all the highways in the country because there
was an accident on one street," said Luis Carlos Diaz, a cyber-activist
and tech columnist for the Caracas newspaper Tal Cual.
The government hasn't said how it intends to stem the bolivar's decline,
a major factor fueling inflation that hit a two-decade high of 54
percent in October. Economists say the only way to stabilize the
currency is by devaluing the bolivar and unwinding decade-old controls
that restrict the amount of foreign currency Venezuelans can purchase.
Maduro vigorously insists he will never adopt such policies.
trio with kidnapping, extorting Cuban ballplayer with Texas Rangers
Dec. 4 - Leonys Martin
Tapanes seemed like yet another Cuban baseball player with tremendous
promise when he signed a $15.5 million contract with the Texas Rangers
But there apparently is a darker story behind Martin’s climb from
poverty to Major League Baseball success.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Miami on Wednesday charged three people —
Eliezer Lazo, 40, formerly of Miami Lakes, Joel Martinez Hernandez, 37,
formerly of Miami-Dade, and Yilian Hernandez, 30, of Hialeah — with
conspiring to smuggle, kidnap and extort the 25-year-old Rangers
The trio are also charged with smuggling 13 other Cuban baseball
prospects to the United States — all of them going from Cuba into Mexico
and then into the United States.
Yilian Hernandez, arrested Wednesday by Homeland Security and FBI
agents, will have her first appearance in Miami federal court Thursday.
Lazo and Martinez are currently serving respective prison sentences of
five and seven years for 2012 money-laundering convictions related to
In announcing the case in a news release, prosecutors cited a civil
lawsuit filed by Estrellas del Beisbol, but provided few details.
The Mexican company, in which Lazo and Martinez had a stake, claims it
became Martin’s management agency after he was smuggled into Mexico. But
last year, Estrellas del Beisbol filed a lawsuit against Martin in
Broward Circuit Court, accusing him of violating his contract for
failing to pay their company up to 30 percent of his salary from his
multiyear deal with the Texas Rangers.
In a countersuit, Martin accused Lazo, Martinez and others of an
“illegal scheme” involving smuggling him and his family out of Cuba into
Mexico in 2010 and holding all of them “hostage” until Martin obtained a
Major League contract and could pay them a “ransom.”
The following year, Martin said in his counterclaim that he wired
$1,350,000 to Estrellas but that “the payment was made out of fear for
himself and his family, not with any intention of validating” his
management agreement with the Mexican company.
Martin’s lawyer, Paul H. Minoff, declined to comment about the
litigation or the indictment filed by Assistant U.S. Attorneys H. Ron
Davidson and Evelyn B. Sheehan.
Martin, born in Villa Clara Province, played for the Cuban national
baseball team in international competitions, including the 2009 World
According to Estrellas’ breach-of-contract suit, Martin was signed the
following year by the Mexican company, but the complaint makes no
mention of how the Cuban ballplayer got to Mexico.
The suit describes Estrellas as a “baseball academy that cultivates and
trains amateur baseball players who desire to play professional baseball
in the United States and, specifically, sign a contract with a team
affiliated with Major League Baseball.”
Under Estrellas’ Nov. 11, 2010, agreement with Martin, the company
agreed to provide training, food, housing and sports clothing, the suit
says. In exchange, the ballplayer agreed to pay 35 percent of any future
professional baseball contract to Estrella — a figure it says was later
reduced by 5 percent as a side fee to Martin’s agent, Bartolo Hernandez,
the suit says. He was not charged in the Miami indictment.
On May 4, 2011, Martin signed his $15.5 million contract with the Texas
Rangers, which came with an additional $5 million signing bonus, for the
Estrellas said in its suit that Martin paid the Mexican company
$1,200,000, but claims he still owes $450,000 for 2011 and an additional
$375,000 for 2012. Continue reading
The Miami Herald
wife tells the world about her dissident husband
Dec. 3 - For years, we've
admired the work of Dr Oscar Elias Biscet. His story is good reading for
who those who do not understand how lucky we are to live in a free
Dr Biscet has been in prison several times and is not allowed to leave
Like Dr. Biscet, there are hundreds of Cubans harassed by a dictatorship
that survives by imposing a repressive state and boasting about its
Elsa Morejon is Dr Biscet's wife and a human rights activist. It was
great to see her article in The Washington Post:
"A few weeks ago, President Obama invited my husband, Oscar Elías Biscet,
and me to a dinner to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the creation of
the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Many thought that in light of Obama's efforts to improve relations
between the United States and Cuba, Gen. Raúl Castro, Cuba's president,
would approve a passport for Oscar so that he could attend. Such was not
Oscar is a physician, but he is not allowed to practice medicine.
Amnesty International has named him a prisoner of conscience for his
years in jail for defending human rights.
He is a follower of the philosophy of Gandhi and King. In 2007,
President George W. Bush awarded Oscar the Medal of Freedom.
But he could not receive the award in person because he was in prison,
where he had been sentenced to a term of 25 years.
Oscar was released in 2011, but in many ways he's still a prisoner
because he can't leave the island."
Elsa speaks for so many and it was good to see a major US newspaper give
her the space to tell the world the truth about Cuba.
Remember Dr Biscet the next time that you hear of all of those
"bargains" about traveling to Cuba!
Show your support for Dr Biscet and other dissidents by taking "your
vacation dollars" elsewhere.
Ladies in White protest in Havana and stopped from marching in Holguín
Dec. 3 - Video of a protest
by the Ladies in White on Sunday December 1 at Parque Gandhi in Havana
and an attempt to march in Holguin, but were stopped by Castro's police
Anastasia O'Grady: The Pope, the State and Venezuela
Dec. 2 - Mary A. O'Grady in
the Wall Street Journal:
Venezuela's Nicolás Maduro
once claimed to be a disciple of a famous Hindu guru. But like his
predecessor Hugo Chávez, who died in March, President Maduro is not
averse to posing as a follower of Catholic teaching when it suits him.
In October he appeared in public wearing a rosary around his neck that
was reportedly given to him by Pope Francis in Rome. It was a political
gesture to suggest his government had the favor of the Holy Father. Some
Venezuelans might believe it. The pope, like Mr. Maduro, has emerged as
a severe critic of free-market economics.
Last week Pope Francis provided Mr. Maduro cover for his claim that
state tyranny is morally justified when the pontiff blasted economic
freedom in his first apostolic exhortation. Venezuelans are sinking
further into poverty under Mr. Maduro's anti-market policies. The pope
wants the larger role for the state and an emphasis on equality of
outcomes that those policies reflect.
Mr. Maduro needs a miracle. Venezuela will hold municipal elections on
Sunday and the vote is seen as a referendum on his leadership. The
government has multiple ways of cheating, but even so the opposition
believes it will do well in the largest cities.
If that happens, it could signal change. Members of the armed service
who were close to Chávez in the military and resent Mr. Maduro's
civilian status are said to be restless.
To save himself, Mr. Maduro has been lashing out at Venezuelan
importers, retailers and landlords in recent weeks, charging that
annualized price inflation, which reached 54% in October, is a symptom
of their greed. He says the private sector is at war with the nation. It
is his job to defend the working class.
After a new round of price controls last month, shoppers stripped
electronics and appliance stores of their goods. Retailers cannot
replace inventories at prices that avoid losses because a dollar costs
around 70 bolivares in the black market. The official rate of 6.3 cannot
Mr. Maduro needs to pin it all on the market. Pope Francis seems eager
to help. In the document released last week he admonished those who
defend "trickle-down theories, which assume that economic growth,
encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about
greater justice and inclusiveness in the world." There is no empirical
evidence for this, he wrote. It is instead "a crude and naive trust in
the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized
workings of the prevailing economic system."
Millions of the world's poor and excluded who landed in the U.S. in the
19th and 20th centuries have been witnesses to the polar-opposite
conclusion. Immigrants to the pope's homeland, Argentina, during the
same period have not done as well—precisely because they've had to plod
along in an economy not unlike the one he advocates.
Heavy state intervention was supposed to produce justice for the poor in
the breadbasket of South America. We all know how that turned out.
No Christian can doubt the love expressed in the pope's message, which
aims to shepherd the flock away from materialism. But the charge that
grinding poverty in the world is the outgrowth of "the absolute autonomy
of the marketplace" ignores reality. To be sure, even prosperous
economies regulate markets. But those that have a lighter touch do
better. Human history clearly demonstrates that when men and women,
employing their free will and God-given talents, are able to innovate,
produce, accumulate capital and trade even the weakest and most
vulnerable are better off.
Instead the pope trusts the state, "charged with vigilance for the
common good." Why is it then that the world's most desperate poor are
concentrated in places where the state has gained an outsize role in the
economy specifically on just such grounds?
Exhibit A is Venezuela. It is an instruction manual on how to increase
human misery. Without competition, the Venezuelan oil monopoly is a nest
of corruption and a source of untold environmental damage. An unchecked
chavista spending binge produced a fiscal deficit of 15% of gross
domestic product last year, and the impulse to print money in order to
pay for it. Among the unintended consequences of price controls are
shortages, which drive hoarding for barter. An accumulated supply of
toilet paper, for example, can be traded for cooking oil when none can
Border states suffer shortages even more acutely since price-controlled
items disappear rapidly into Colombia. The national chaos cultivates
envy, hatred and violence.
Venezuelans need a moral authority that defends their rights to run a
business, make a living, own property and preserve the purchasing power
of what they earn. In short, they need a champion for a rule of law that
will limit the power of the state over their person. Mother Church ought
to be that voice. In siding with Mr. Maduro, however inadvertently, she
harms her cause in the region.
The Wall Street Journal
dead in another building collapse in Havana
Nov. 30 - Two people are dead
from torrential rains that lashed Cuba for more than 24 hours, island
authorities said Saturday.
The deluge caused multiple collapses in dwellings in Havana, Communist
Party newspaper Granma reported. A man and a woman were killed in one
structure that caved in.
Yunior Amesa, nephew of the deceased man, told The Associated Press he
had left for work just before their building came down.
"It was raining very hard and there was a lot of weight (from the water)
up there. They went to bed. Minutes before, I was sitting in there,"
Amesa said. "When I went to work I heard the building had collapsed and
caught them both sleeping."
The rain arrived early Friday and fell near constantly throughout the
day. Traffic snarled and some cars were stranded, as intersections
flooded and streets turned into rushing rivers.
Cuba's Meteorological Institute recorded 2.8 inches (72 millimeters) of
precipitation during a single three-hour period in the afternoon in
Havana, and accumulations of up to 7.8 inches (200 millimeters)
Rain continued to fall in the capital early Saturday, and the famed
seaside Malecon boulevard remained closed because of high surf that was
breaking over the seawall and onto the street.
Granma said the area affected ranged from the western province of
Artemisa to Ciego de Avila in the central part of the country.
regime suspends consular services in the US
Nov. 26 - Cuba is shutting
down nearly all of its consular services in the United States until
further notice after it said no bank would handle its business, the
government announced on Tuesday, blaming the situation on the
longstanding U.S. economic embargo.
The decision threatens to disrupt a recent surge in travel between the
United States and Cuba on the eve of the busy holiday season, as well as
the Obama administration's "people-to-people" policy of increased
contact with Cuba.
The Cuban Interests Section, Havana's diplomatic mission in Washington,
said in a news release that it was informed in July by its bank, M&T
Bank, that it would no longer provide banking services to foreign
Officials at Buffalo, New York-based M&T Bank did not respond to phone
calls seeking comment.
The Obama administration tried to convince M&T to keep the account
active, according to a U.S. official.
"The Department of State has been actively working with (the Cuban
Interests Section) to identify a new bank to provide services to the
Cuban missions," a spokeswoman for the department said.
The administration does not believe the decision was politically
motivated and was brought on by the complicated nature of Cuba's banking
needs and currency convertibility issues that did not make it
commercially viable for M&T to keep the accounts open.
M&T has apparently divested all of its diplomatic accounts in recent
years and this was the last remaining one.
In Tuesday's press release, Cuba blamed the five-decade-old U.S. embargo
that limits financial transactions with the island, saying it had been
unable to find another bank willing to operate its U.S. accounts.
The decision came as a shock to travel companies offering services to
Cuba. They said it would affect many travelers, both Cuban and American,
who need documents approved by Cuban consular officials prior to
Christmas period flights were sold out between December 20 and December
31 and those passengers would not be affected as they already have
travel documents, said Tessie Aral, president of Miami-based ABC
Charters, one of several companies offering charter flights to various
cities in Cuba.
But other travelers who do not have up-to-date Cuban passports and need
a visa to travel "would have a problem," she said.
Cuba said the loss of banking services meant consular services would
only be available for humanitarian and special cases "until further
Cuba said it "particularly regrets the effects this may have on Cuban
and U.S. citizens ... with the negative impact on family visits,
academic, cultural, educational, scientific, sports and other kind of
exchange between Cuba and the United States."
Cuban American critics of Cuba's communist government accused it of
seeking to use the banking issue to pressure the Obama administration to
relax U.S. sanctions against the island.
"The Obama administration has already weakened many sanctions and it
should not fall for this blatant emotional blackmail," said U.S.
Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Miami.
On the other hand, the decision is potentially a big blow to Cuba's
tourism industry, one of the mainstays of the island's cash-strapped
Around 350,000 Cuban Americans visit relatives in Cuba each year
according to travel industry estimates. Many of them must seek entry
visas if they do not have a valid Cuban passport.
Cuban emigres who lack U.S. citizenship must keep their Cuban passports
up to date through the Cuban Interests Section in Washington.
Close to 100,000 Americans also visited Cuba in 2012, according to the
Cuban government, under the Obama administration's people-to-people
policy of cultural and academic exchanges, providing much needed
revenues to the hotel and restaurant industries.
Cuba said the United States was required under the diplomatic treaties
to ensure "full facilities for the performance of the functions" of its
diplomatic missions and consular offices in the United States.
Herald Editorial: Listen to Cuba's Dissidents
Nov. 24 - The Obama
administration is dropping broad hints of possible changes in U.S.
policy toward Cuba. Any change should come with a cautionary note: Watch
what Cuba’s leaders do to dissidents and the average citizen alike, not
what they say about “modernizing” Cuba.
It’s encouraging to hear that the administration is thinking about how
to move the needle on Cuba, as President Obama told an audience in Miami
recently. Too often Cuban issues are deemed politically risky and shoved
But policy toward Cuba should not be forged in a vacuum. Raúl Castro and
his octogenarian colleagues show that they’re determined to hang onto
power. They’re not interested in genuine democracy and they’re not about
to tolerate any changes that could threaten their survival. The regime’s
actions speak volumes about its true intentions:
• November began with a delay in the trial of three democracy activists
arrested last year during the visit of Pope Benedict XVI. The church has
a new pope, but these dissidents are still in jail.
• The following weekend, Cuban security officials detained 30 members of
the Ladies in White in yet another crackdown on freedom advocates, and a
government mob pummeled a prominent dissident, Guillermo Fariñas, when
he dared complain to the police.
• On Oct. 14, police and a pro-government mob arrested 22 members of the
Ladies in White who were marking the anniversary of the death of their
• In September, more than 700 short-term detentions of dissidents were
reported by Cuban human rights groups, one of the highest totals in
This goes to the heart of what Cuba’s dictatorship is all about — power.
It’s important to put events in this context and not the false reality
portrayed by the regime.
President Obama sparked speculation about upcoming changes in U.S.
policy toward Cuba when he told a private Democratic Party fund-raiser
here that “we have to continue to update our policies” toward that
beleaguered nation. Last week, Secretary of State John Kerry repeated
those same words in a major speech on Latin America.
The president said his administration would have to be “creative” and
“thoughtful” in updating U.S. policy, words that Mr. Kerry echoed while
noting that the two governments “are finding some cooperation on common
Mr. Kerry properly noted changes in Cuba that make life a bit easier for
people by allowing more Cubans to travel freely and work for themselves.
But such changes and selective actions don’t portend a change in the
nature of the regime. The secretary of State noted that this “should
absolutely not blind us to the authoritarian reality of life for
Exactly. Fortunately, that same message was delivered to Mr. Obama by
two prominent dissidents when the president was in Miami.
Mr. Fariñas and Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White, met with
President Obama at a Democratic fund-raiser hosted by Jorge Mas Santos,
chairman of the Cuban American National Foundation. Mr. Mas Santos
deserves credit for providing a useful venue for the president to hear
directly from two brave dissidents.
Listen to opposition leaders who live in Cuba, they told Mr. Obama. Keep
“tough sanctions” in place, disregarding “cosmetic changes” until the
regime moves toward real democracy. Ensure that dissidents and civil
society have a place at the table in any negotiations on Cuba.
That advice should be heeded as the administration ponders new moves
toward a nation held captive for almost 55 years.
The Miami Herald
opposition marches, leader's aide arrested
Nov. 23 - Tens of thousands
of opposition supporters marched in Venezuela on Saturday to pressure
President Nicolas Maduro's government before December 8 local elections
after their leader denounced the pre-dawn arrest of an aide.
The vote for control of 335 municipalities will be the first big test of
Maduro's political strength after he narrowly defeated his opposition
rival, Henrique Capriles, to win a presidential election in April.
Capriles told the main rally in the capital his national tours
coordinator, Alejandro Silva, was taken at gunpoint from a Caracas hotel
room by military intelligence agents and that he held Maduro responsible
for the aide's safety.
"Maduro, don't be a coward! ... You want to put me in prison, come for
me! I'm not afraid," Capriles said to cheers from a crowd of 2,000 to
3,000 supporters, many wearing the blue, yellow and red of the
With voters frustrated over surging inflation and product shortages, a
major part of the government's strategy has been a theatrical
confrontation with business leaders that echoes the style of Maduro's
late mentor, Hugo Chavez.
The authorities have ordered businesses to slash prices and people have
flooded shops to take advantage of discounted items ranging from car
parts to electronics and sports shoes.
Many people who marched with the opposition scoffed at that idea and
said Maduro's statist economic policies were the problem.
"I'm not looking for home appliances," said Celide Romero, a 79-year-old
protestor. "I've been looking for milk for the last month and a half,
but there isn't any." Read more
Castro's Murders Approved by the UN
By Rolando Pulido:
Pitcher Jose Fernandez Reunites with Grandmother for 1st Time After
Defecting From Cuba
Nov. 15 - From USA Today:
Jose Fernandez was already
having a pretty great week when he won the National League Rookie of the
Year Award on Monday. It got even better when the 20-year-old was
reunited with his grandmother for the first time since defecting from
Cuba along with his mother and sister in 2008 prior to winning the
It’s a great, emotional moment that not even the presence of Jeffrey
Loria can ruin. Say what you will about Loria and how he swindled the
city of Miami to pay for his new stadium, but he does seem to have a
genuine affection for his players.
We also need to track down Brian McCann to make sure Fernandez’s
emotions during the video were being handled, “the right way.”
Watch the video
Obama visits Miami and meets with Cuban dissidents
Nov. 9 - President Barack
Obama told two of Cuba’s leading dissidents in South Florida Friday that
he admires their sacrifices, a rare White House recognition of the
peaceful opposition on the communist-ruled island.
“The most important thing here was the recognition by the president of
the United States, the most powerful democracy in the world,” dissident
Guillermo Farinas said minutes after the meeting.
Farinas, spokesman for the Cuban Patriotic Union of Cuba, and Ladies in
White leader Berta Soler met with Obama during a fund-raiser at the
Pinecrest home of Jorge Mas Santos, chairman of the Cuban American
National Foundation (CANF).
Farinas said the two dissidents urged Obama during their private meeting
to ensure that any negotiations on the future of Cuba include the
opposition on the island as well as exiles.
They also counseled the president to listen to dissidents, because they
are the ones who live on the island. Fariñas and Soler have both
advocated tough U.S. sanctions on Havana until the government moves
Mas Santos told El Nuevo Herald that the president listened to the
dissidents, “encouraged them and spoke of his admiration for their
Obama’s visit “lasted an hour but seemed like 10 seconds,” said Mas
Santos, who hosted one of three Obama fundraisers Friday and Saturday
for the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Senatorial
Speaking by the pool of Mas Santos’ house, Obama said his policy of
supporting civil society in Cuba is beginning to show results, but that
Washington must continue to be “creative and thoughtful” in its
Soler wore the traditional white clothes of her group, and Farinas wore
a suit and tie with a Band-Aid over the spot on his scalp where he
suffered a cut during a beating just last Sunday by a pro-government
Meetings of U.S. presidents with dissidents from any country have been
historically rare, although Vice President Joe Biden received Soler in
the White House last month.
Both the Ladies in White and Fariñas have won the European Parliament’s
top human rights award, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of conscience.
The women won it in 2005 and Fariñas, who has staged more than 20 hunger
strikes to protest abuses, in 2010.
The Miami Herald
to blame: Doctors say Venezuela's health care in collapse
Nov. 8 - Evelina Gonzalez was
supposed to undergo cancer surgery in July following chemotherapy but
wound up shuttling from hospital to hospital in search of an available
operating table. On the crest of her left breast, a mocha-colored tumor
doubled in size and now bulges through her white spandex tank top.
Gonzalez is on a list of 31
breast cancer patients waiting to have tumors removed at one of
Venezuela's biggest medical facilities, Maracay's Central Hospital. But
like legions of the sick across the country, she's been neglected by a
health care system doctors say is collapsing after years of
Doctors at the hospital sent home 300 cancer patients last month when
supply shortages and overtaxed equipment made it impossible for them to
perform non-emergency surgeries.
Driving the crisis in health care are the same forces that have left
Venezuelans scrambling to find toilet paper, milk and automobile parts.
Economists blame government mismanagement and currency controls set by
the late President Hugo Chavez for inflation pushing 50 percent
annually. The government controls the dollars needed to buy medical
supplies and has simply not made enough available.
"I feel like I've been abandoned," Gonzalez, 37, tells a bright-eyed
hospital psychologist trying to boost her morale. Her right eye is
swollen by glaucoma diagnosed two years ago but left untreated when she
had trouble getting an appointment.
Doctors not allied with the government say many patients began dying
from easily treatable illnesses when Venezuela's downward economic slide
accelerated after Chavez's death from cancer in March. Doctors say it's
impossible to know how many have died, and the government doesn't keep
such numbers, just as it hasn't published health statistics since 2010.
Almost everything needed to mend and heal is in critically short supply:
needles, syringes and paraffin used in biopsies to diagnose cancer;
drugs to treat it; operating room equipment; X-ray film and imaging
paper; blood and the reagents needed so it can be used for transfusions.
Last month, the government suspended organ donations and transplants. At
least 70 percent of radiotherapy machines, precisely what Gonzalez will
need once her tumor is removed, are now inoperable in a country with
19,000 cancer patients - meaning fewer than 5,000 can be treated, said
Dr. Douglas Natera, president of the Venezuelan Medical Federation.
"Two months ago we asked the government to declare an emergency," said
Natera, whose doctors group is the country's largest. "We got no
response." Continue reading
is brutally attacked by Castro's police for expressing her opinions
Nov. 4 - Anonymous Venezuela
has a warning: This is the future of Venezuela unless they get rid of
Maduro and the other puppets under the control of the Castro brothers.
Sáncez's presentation at Google Ideas Summit
October 26 - Yoani Sánchez
explains how Internet without Internet is used by Cubans inside the
Learn how you can help
promote Internet without Internet in Cuba:
The Real Cuba
Also on Twitter: @WebPaqsforCuba
Paquetes Web Para Cuba
Sanchez: Why Cuba needs a monument to the thumb drive
Oct. 21 - Most Cubans remain
cut off from the Internet but are still using creative ways to access
and spread information online, a dissident blogger told journalists from
around the Americas Sunday.
Yoani Sanchez gave a largely grim report of the state of the press in
Cuba at a meeting of the Inter American Press Association in Denver. She
said President Raul Castro's regime has been aggressive in arresting and
beating people who speak out against the government and has failed to
document those actions, as his brother Fidel did. However, she said
neither is better than the other.
"They play the good and the bad policeman but in the end they are two
policemen," she said to applause.
While over 200 Internet cafes opened on the island nation this year, she
said the cost of using the slow and censored service for just an hour is
about $5 -- about a third of the average Cuban's monthly salary.
Despite that, she said people are sharing information on thumb drives
and can use their cellphones to text and post messages to Twitter
blindly, which she compared to sending a message in a bottle since she
doesn't know who is reading what she wrote. She joked that when Cuba is
free, the country will have to build a monument to the thumb drive,
which she said has done more to help the country than many of the people
now honoured by statues there.
Sanchez said those and other methods of "extreme creativity" to deal
with limited Internet access aren't surprising in a nation where people
were forced to come up with a way to make the spicy ground beef dish
picadillo without meat.
"We do the same with information," she said.
Learn about a new
technology that allows Cubans in Cuba have access to websites banned by
the Castro regime and how you can help:
The Real Cuba
Also on Twitter: @WebPaqsforCuba
Paquetes Web Para Cuba
another act of repudiation against members of UNPACU
Oct. 9 - This took place in
Cardenas on Sunday October 6, 2013
to see the video
Cuban authorities are worried about web paqs circulating inside Cuba
Sept. 13 - Tweet from Yoani
"Authorities worried because
of "packages" or "combos" with a collection of audiovisuals in the black
As I have said before,
projects like Web Paqs for Cuba are the best way to bypass the
blockade at the Internet, put in place by the Castro dictatorship to
prevent Cubans in the island from knowing what's happening inside Cuba
and in the rest of the world.
You can learn more about Web
Paqs for Cuba and how you can get involved in this project at
La Singularidad Cuba (Español)
The Real Cuba
(English) Twitter and
200 members of UNPACU at El Cobre Sanctuary on Sunday September 8
Sept. 9 - More than 200
members of Unión Patriótica Cubana (UNPACU) went to El Cobre Sanctuary
on Sunday, September 8, to participate in a Mass honoring La Virgen de
la Caridad and to express their opposition to the Cuban dictatorship.
doctor testifies in front of the Brazilian Congress
Sept. 7 -
Watch the video
400 cases of cholera reported in Güines
Sept. 2 - The Municipality of
Güines, 30 kilometers from Havana, has been severally affected by the
According to this report from
Hablemos Press, more than 400 people in Güines have been diagnosed with
Click here to see the video
Hablemos Press (Spanish)
The hospitals in
Venezuela are looking more and more like the hospitals in Castro's Cuba
July 29 - This photo was
taken at the Hospital Central de Valencia, in the state of Carabobo,
A country with the world's
largest oil reserves and with no embargo!
As I have said all along, it
is not the embargo, it is the stupid system that has never worked
anywhere n the world!
in Santiago de Cuba against UNPACU activists
July 22 -
Click here to see the video
at the Hijas de Galicia Hospital, Luyanó, Havana, Cuba
July 8 - Video taken in April
of this year at the Hijas de Galicia Hospital, one of the hospitals for
Cubans who do not have hard currency to pay the Castro brothers.
Very different from the
hospital where they took Micahel Moore and the hospitals that are used
by foreigners who pay with dollars.
Click here to see the video
video shows Bahamian guards brutally abusing Cuban rafters
June 15 - June 15 - This
clandestine video taking inside a Bahamian jail, shows a guard kicking
and insulting Cuban rafters who were trying to reach the United States
and ended up in the Bahamas.
There should be a tourism boycott of the Bahamas, unless the Bahamian
government orders the arrest and prosecution of this brutal thug and
stops abusing Cuban rafters who are risking their lives in search for
Click here to see the video
Moya Portieles, a woman who is not afraid of the brutal regime in Cuba
June 1 - Damaris Moya
Portieles is a a human rights activist and member of the Rosa Parks
Movement for Civil Rights.
She has been arrested and beaten many times by Cuban police and state
But she is not afraid!
Her house is full of signs against the Castro brothers and their
dictatorship, as can be seen in the following picture that shows her
husband and kids standing outside their home.
May 17 - This video was taken
in the city of Holguín, Cuba on Mother's Day, May 12, 2013.
The sign on the house reads "Abajo
el hambre" (Down with hunger). The woman who lives there, Angela
Domínguez Rodríguez, explains that they can't find anything to eat and
if it wasn't for some "mondongo" that someone gave them for Mother's
Day, she and her children would have had nothing to eat.
This is happening in Cuba,
just a few days after the head of the UN Organization for Food and
Agriculture (FAO), José Graziano, congratulated Cuban dictator Fidel
Castro in a letter for the reduction of hunger on the island.
I wonder how many young
jineteras he was offered in exchange for his letter.
Watch the video
Yoani Sánchez about the Web Paqs for Cuba project
Web Para Cuba
Visit our page about
Paquetes Web Para Cuba
You can also visit us on
Facebook to find all
information about the Internet Web Paqs for Cuba, a project to help the
Cuban people have access to the websites that are blocked by the Cuban
Make sure to click on 'Like"
as a sign of support
Paquetes Web Para Cuba
daily ABC has an article about the false myth of Cuba's healthcare
Foto de la
versión impresa del reportaje en ABC
March 17 - On Thursday of
last week, Carmen Muñoz a columnist for Spanish daily ABC, called me to
ask for permission to use the photos at therealcuba.com for an article
about the false myth of Cuba's healthcare.
I was able to send her many
of the photos on high resolution to use on the print edition of the
The article was published on
Sunday on ABC and is also on their web page at
Cuban blogger Orlando Luis Pardo about Paquetes Web Para Cuba
Fidel Castro, the
World's oldest terrorist
My interview with
March 29 - I was interviewed by Ed Kasputis, of Baseball PhD, about
baseball in Cuba before Castro and about the two Cubas, the one for
foreigners and the one for regular Cubans.
Ed did a previous program with Mr. Sports Travel of San Diego, CA, about
the five top international baseball destinations and was surprised to
find out that the #1 destination was Cuba.
He received some nice pictures of Cuba and was ready to book a trip when
he saw therealcuba.com and changed his mind.
He interviewed me as part of a program about the new Marlins Stadium and
I was able to talk about baseball in Cuba before Castro and then we had
a long chat about what is the reality of life in Cuba under Castro.
The program lasts 53 minutes, if you are not a baseball fan and just
want to hear my interview about Cuba use your mouse to move the dial to
here to listen
Listen to Fidel Castro
For those who think that the Cuban people chose the system imposed by
the Castro brothers, here are some of the things that Fidel Castro said
and promised when he gained power
photos of Cuba's prisons, missile installations, military bases and
A look at
Havana before the Castro brothers destroyed it
We have new photos of
Havana taken in October of last year
Oct. 9 - A friend sent me around two dozen photos of Havana that he took
at the beginning of this month.
Some of them are very sad, because they show how Havana has been
completely destroyed by this gang of human termites.
Some others are hard to believe, including this one of goats having
"lunch" off the dumpsters on a Havana street.
to see them
Socio-Economic Conditions in Pre-Castro
Dec. 17 - Cuba Facts is an ongoing series of succinct
fact sheets on various topics, including, but not limited to, political
structure, health, economy, education, nutrition, labor, business,
foreign investment, and demographics, published and updated on a regular
basis by the Cuba Transition Project staff at the University of Miami.
Click here to learn the truth about Cuba's Health, Education,
Personal Consumption and much more in pre-Castro Cuba.
More photos showing how the Castro brothers
have destroyed one of the world's most beautiful cities
Have visited this page