hits the town of Potrerillo in Central Cuba
May 23 - Cuban media is
reporting that 39 homes were damaged by a tornado in the town of
Potrerillo in the province of Sancti Spiritus in central Cuba.
The tornado occurred on Wednesday afternoon.
No casualties were reported.
"Exiles are going to rebuild Cuba, not to take away land or homes from
May 23 - When Cuban hunger
striker Guillermo Farinas arrived in Miami, he said he was prepared to
face rejection from radical members of the Cuban-American community who
do not believe in pacific opposition.
The reaction has been far different. When he went to the Versailles
restaurant, a traditional gathering spot for older exiles in the city's
Little Havana neighborhood, he was embraced. During an event at Miami's
iconic Freedom Tower, he was applauded.
"The love the exiles in Miami have shown us makes us discard what the
government, over 54 years, has planted in our minds," he said.
It's still too early to know what, if any impact, the travels by Cuba's
most prominent dissidents will have back on the communist-run island.
Since January, when Cuban leaders stopped requiring all citizens to
obtain "exit permits," the dissidents have met not only with exiles, but
also with U.S., European and Latin American leaders. In the past, the
exit permit was routinely denied to "counterrevolutionaries." Some
dissidents are still not allowed to leave.
At the very least, though, in Miami, the dissidents have stirred up a
conversation about Cuba's opposition and the misperceptions each side
has formed about the other during the five decades of divisive policy
and rhetoric that have followed Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution.
Farinas and others have remarked about the exile community they were
raised to imagine: A "Miami mafia" that wanted to return to the island
and take back the houses they left behind.
"There are many people who are afraid," acknowledged Berta Soler, a
leader of the Ladies in White dissident group, in a talk before a group
of exiles Monday. "We are here to be able to go there and tell those
people they are wrong, not to listen to what the Cuban government says,
because those in exile are going to rebuild Cuba, not take away land or
homes from anyone." Read
International Annual Report 2013: Repression in Cuba has increased
May 22 - Repression of
independent journalists, opposition leaders and human rights activists
increased. There were reports of an average of 400 short-term arrests
each month and activists travelling from the provinces to Havana were
frequently detained. Prisoners of conscience continued to be sentenced
on trumped-up charges or held in pre-trial detention.
Rights to freedom of expression, association, movement and assembly
Peaceful demonstrators, independent journalists and human rights
activists were routinely detained for exercising their rights to freedom
of expression, association and assembly. Many were detained and others
were subjected to acts of repudiation by government supporters.
•In March, local human rights activists faced a wave of arrests and
local organizations reported 1,137 arbitrary detentions before and after
the visit of Pope Benedict XVI.
The authorities adopted a range of measures to prevent activists
reporting on human rights including surrounding the homes of activists
and disconnecting phones. Organizations whose activities had been
tolerated by the authorities in the past, such as the Cuban Commission
on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, were targeted. Independent
journalists reporting on dissidents’ activities were detained.
The government continued to exert control over all media, while access
to information on the internet remained challenging due to technical
limitations and restrictions on content.
•In July, Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas, one of Cuba’s most respected human
rights and pro-democracy campaigners, died in a car accident in Granma
Province. Several journalists and bloggers covering the hearing into the
accident were detained for several hours.
•Roberto de Jesús Guerra Pérez, founder of the independent news agency
Let’s Talk Press (Hablemos Press), was forced into a car in September,
and reportedly beaten as he was driven to a police station. Before being
released, he was told that he had become the “number one dissident
journalist” and would be imprisoned if he continued his activities.
A number of measures were used to stop or penalize activities by
political opponents. Many attempting to attend meetings or
demonstrations were detained or prevented from leaving their homes.
Political opponents, independent journalists and human rights activists
were routinely denied visas to travel abroad.
•For the 19th time since May 2008, Yoani Sánchez, an opposition blogger,
was denied an exit visa. She had planned to attend the screening in
Brazil of a documentary on blogging and censorship in which she
•In September, around 50 members of the Ladies in White organization
were detained on their way to Havana to attend a public demonstration.
Most were immediately sent back to their home provinces and then
released; 19 were held incommunicado for several days.
In October, the government announced changes to the Migration Law that
facilitate travel abroad, including the removal of mandatory exit visas.
However, a series of requirements – over which the government would
exercise discretion – could continue to restrict freedom to leave the
country. The amendments were due to become effective in January 2013. Continue
'businessman' facing a trial in a lawless country
May 22 - When Sarkis
Yacoubian walks into a courtroom in Havana Thursday to face serious
corruption charges that could send him to prison for 12 years, the North
York businessman will have a high-powered diplomat keeping a close eye
on his trial — Canada’s ambassador to Cuba.
As the Toronto Star revealed last week, Yacoubian, who ran a successful
$30 million transport and trading company called Tri-Star Caribbean, was
handed a 63-page indictment by Cuban prosecutors in April accusing him
of three counts of bribery, tax evasion and “activities damaging to the
After almost two years in custody without charges, Yacoubian’s fate will
be decided by a panel of five judges in a hearing that is expected to
last no longer than two days at the Criminal Court of the Peoples’
Tribunal for Havana Province.
Other jailed foreigners and diplomats are nervously watching to see how
far the Cuban justice system, not known for its transparency or
independence, will go in pursuing a case that has become an
international political flashpoint.
In an apparent signal about just how seriously Ottawa views the case,
the Department of Foreign Affairs this week informed Julian Falconer,
Yacoubian’s lawyer in Canada, that Ambassador Matthew Levin will attend
both days of the trial along with the Consul General at the embassy.
“It is very rare for the ambassador to show up in a courtroom,” said Gar
Pardy, a former director general of consular services for Canada. “It
sends a message to the Cuban authorities: this is a case of direct
interest to the government of Canada.”
Levin had previously visited Yacoubian at least four times while he was
in La Condesa prison on the outskirts of Havana.
Yacoubian was arrested in July 2011 as part of the Cuban Communist
Party’s highly-charged political campaign against corruption.
A second GTA entrepreneur, Cy Tokmakjian, who runs a rival
transportation firm, was arrested in September 2011 and remains in jail
with no specific charges filed against him.
Yacoubian told the Star in a series of lengthy jailhouse phone
interviews that he confessed and cooperated closely with his Cuban
interrogators, pointing the finger at what he called the “bigger crooks”
— a wide network of foreign companies engaged in widespread corruption
“I just wanted to talk, I just wanted to tell them, to correct things,”
Yacoubian said he had hoped that his close co-operation with the Cubans
in exposing the web of corruption would help his case.
“I told them everything, I told how these schemes were done,” he said.
“I was expecting anytime these things will clear up.”
But after nearly two years in detention, that has not happened.
“They expect me in court to say I am sorry and I will say that,” he
said. “But I’m not going to lay quietly and be the victim.”
“Sarkis is ready for anything,” said Krikor Yacoubian, who has been in
almost daily contact by phone with his brother. “Sarkis is a guinea pig.
His trial will be a test of how Canada is going to react.”
Opposition: Audio Suggests Cuba Meddling. Really? No kidding!
May 21 - Venezuela's
opposition has released an audio recording that it said contains a
prominent member of the ruling party discussing political strategy with
a Cuban intelligence officer.
Opposition lawmaker Ismael Garcia said Monday that the recording
captures a phone conversation between state TV personality Mario Silva,
a staunch government ally, and a Cuban identified as Lt. Col. Aramis
Venezuela's opposition has long accused Cuban leaders of wielding
influence behind the scenes in guiding government decisions. For its
part, the Venezuelan government accuses opposition leader Henrique
Capriles of being a puppet of the U.S.
At a news conference, Garcia didn't say when the conversation was
recorded or how he obtained it.
In it, a man identified as Silva is heard discussing a split in the
ruling socialist party between parliament leader Diosdado Cabello and
President Nicolas Maduro, the late President Hugo Chavez's successor.
The man says he worries that Cabello, a former army officer, is
conspiring against the president, who narrowly defeated Capriles in an
April 14 election that the opposition refuses to accept, claiming fraud.
For example, the voice says, Maduro's opponents in the party want to
remove Defense Minister Diego Molero.
"Why do they want to remove him, Palacios? To be able to take the armed
forces and put pressure on Maduro or to behave as they please or to pull
a coup d'etat," the man says.
Silva dismissed the recording on Twitter as a "montage" and suggested
U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies were behind it. In a statement
later Monday, he insisted that the recording was "absolutely false," and
pledged his support to both Maduro and Cabello.
Cabello also dismissed the recording, calling on the opposition to
present real evidence, "not a show."
White say they want both material and moral support
May 20 - Leaders of Cuba’s
dissident Ladies in White group rejected Havana’s claims they are
mercenaries and said on Monday that there is nothing wrong with
receiving help from abroad because the Cuban government “is trying to
Berta Soler and Belkis Cantillo also called for forgiveness of low-level
repressors in a post-Castro era but punishment for those “with blood on
their hands” during an appearance at the Freedom Tower, symbolic heart
of Miami’s exile community, on Cuba’s traditional Independence Day.
Soler, Cantillo and Laura Labrada got louder and longer applause than
even Miami’s own Gloria Estefan, who wore a white dress and presented
the women with a large photo of the massive march she helped organize in
Miami in 2010 to support their group.
The audience of several hundred at the Freedom Tower broke repeatedly
into applause and shouts of “Viva Cuba” as the three women, also dressed
in white, laid out their thoughts on the communist-run island of 11
Cantillo said that as a Christian she could forgive the young State
Security agent who punched and shoved her to break up a protest last
month by several members of the Ladies in White in the eastern province
of Santiago de Cuba.
Soler said, however, that in a democratic Cuba “those with blood on
their hands must go on trial.” She gave no details, but Cubans often
point to the boats that rammed and sank the tugboat “13 de Marzo” in
1994 to keep it from escaping the island. More than 30 people aboard the
Soler and Labrada also repeated their pleas for material and moral
assistance for the Ladies in White and other dissidents, rejecting Cuban
government allegations that Washington finances their activities to
undermine the communist system.
“We are not paid. We are not mercenaries,” said Labrada. “And we are
grateful for all of those who want to help us.”
Soler added that the dissidents need “oxygen” because the Cuban
government “wants to asphyxiate us,” often by denying jobs, educational
benefits and other government services to opposition activists and
Journalist Maria Elvira Salazar, who moderated the presentation, noted
in a question that Havana received huge subsidies from the Soviet Union
and Venezuela and supported guerrillas in almost every Latin American
country during the 1960s and 70s.
The Miami Herald
phone conversation shows the Cuban government is running Venezuela
May 20 -
Venezuelan opposition congressman Ismael Garcíamade public on Monday a
taped conversation between Mario Silva, a hardcore government supporter
and anchorman of "La Hojilla" a TV show aired on state-run TV channel
VTV, and Aramis Palacios, a lieutenant colonel of Cuban G2.
Here is a report from El
García explained that a "very
serious situation" was mirrored in the conversation. The material,
García said, "was going to be handed over to Raúl Castro, since he is
the one who leads and directs the policy of this country."
On the tape, Silva is heard saying: "Speaking of devaluation, the
problem is the flight of capital in some enterprises owned by (Congress
Speaker) Diosdado Cabello."
The Congress Speaker is "corrupt, together with the '85 generation' "
He added that inside the Venezuelan army "middle-level cadres hate,
despise Cabello's attitude;" therefore, "not everything is lost."
Silva commented that President Nicolás Maduro and his partner Cilia
Flores skipped a meeting with Defense Minister Diego Molero, who
seemingly tried to talk about a "serious internal situation" inside the
army caused by rumors going around.
Silva said that Fidel Castro once lamented that late President Hugo
Chávez did not end all further elections. "We put ourselves the Sword of
Damocles saying that the CNE (National Electoral Council) is
impregnable. How could I say then that it was hacked?
Because people make mistakes and I fully agree with it. Elections here
as they stand right now, they can blow us and can bring our revolution
Silva pointed out that José Vicente Rangel, a government supporter who
held several incumbencies under the government of President Chávez,
anticipated before Chávez's death that Jorge Arreaza would be the next
Venezuelan Vice-President; therefore, "there is the need to speak with
him to facilitate some building contracts."
May 20 - Well known dissidents Dr. Darsi Ferrer, Manuel Cuesta
Morúa and Luis Felipe Rojas joined me this weekend at the Babalu booth
during Cuba Nostalgia, to explain the importance of the Web Paqs for
Here are some photos taken during the event.
Alberto de la Cruz, George Moneo, Val Prieto and Ziva Sahl with Manuel
Cuesta Morúa and Dr. Darsi Ferrer
Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White with other members of the
Berta Soler reading the information about the Web Paqs for Cuba project.
Guillermo 'Coco' Fariñas, who is visiting Miami this week, was also at
the Cuba Nostalgia event.
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.
clean the mess? Venezuela to import 50 million rolls of toilet paper
May 16 - First milk, butter,
coffee and cornmeal ran short. Now Venezuela is running out of the most
basic of necessities — toilet paper.
Blaming political opponents for the shortfall, as it does for other
shortages, the embattled socialist government says it will import 50
million rolls to boost supplies.
That was little comfort to consumers struggling to find toilet paper on
"This is the last straw," said Manuel Fagundes, a shopper hunting for
tissue in downtown Caracas. "I'm 71 years old and this is the first time
I've seen this."
One supermarket visited by The Associated Press in the capital on
Wednesday was out of toilet paper. Another had just received a fresh
batch, and it quickly filled up with shoppers as the word spread.
"I've been looking for it for two weeks," said Cristina Ramos. "I was
told that they had some here and now I'm in line."
Economists say Venezuela's shortages stem from price controls meant to
make basic goods available to the poorest parts of society and the
government's controls on foreign currency.
"State-controlled prices — prices that are set below market-clearing
price — always result in shortages. The shortage problem will only get
worse, as it did over the years in the Soviet Union," said Steve Hanke,
professor of economics at Johns Hopkins University.
President Nicolas Maduro, who was selected by the dying Hugo Chavez to
carry on his "Bolivarian revolution," claims that anti-government
forces, including the private sector, are causing the shortages in an
effort to destabilize the country.
The government this week announced it would import 760,000 tons of food
and 50 million rolls of toilet paper.
Commerce Minister Alejandro Fleming blamed the shortage of toilet tissue
on "excessive demand" built up as a result of "a media campaign that has
been generated to disrupt the country."
"The revolution will bring the country the equivalent of 50 million
Venezuela, they now mark your arm with your number in line when you try
to buy corn meal
May 10 - Venezuelan citizens
are now experiencing a lack of food and medicines, like Cubans have been
experiencing for 54 years.
The only difference is that
in Venezuela they cannot use the stupid excuse of the US embargo for the
lack of these products, as they do in Cuba.
As I have always said, the
only real embargo is the one of the Castro brothers against the Cuban
people and now also against the Venezuelan people.
The Castro brothers know that
if you have to spend half of your day waiting in line to find the food
for your family, you don't have time to organize or to get involved in
One of the most typical food
item in Venezuela is the "arepa". Venezuelans eat arepa at any time of
the day, and with a variety of different fillings.
Arepas are made with corn
meal, which is now almost impossible to find in Venezuela.
Since very early in the
morning, lines with as many as 1,000 people have been seen outside
supermarkets trying to buy corn meal.
To prevent fights among
consumers several supermarkets are now marking the arms of the people
with their number in line, to make sure that no one tries to get in
front of those who are waiting.
Incredible but true, that is
what has been happening now in Cuba's colony, which is known as
Carlos Eire - Babalu Blog: Photo of the Day: Berta Soler and Pope
May 8 - It
would be great to have an audio recording of the words exchanged.
But...well.... at least we know that they speak the same language, and
that Berta knows how to deliver a message. As Cubans would say: "ella no
tiene pelos en la lengua." (She has no hairs on her tongue - she can be
This was not a private audience. Every wednesday morning the pope
celebrates mass, delivers a brief talk to a large invited audience,
blesses them, and then mingles with the crowd. Getting a spot in the
front row is difficult and takes some clout.
Berta was well placed, and had a chance to catch the pope's eye. And he
may have been alerted to her presence.
It may seem like an insignificant encounter to some, but this is a big
deal, and the rulers of the Castro Kingdom will gnash their teeth when
they see this photo. The Cuban flag draped between the two figures in
white will be a great irritant to the tyrants, because they refuse to
accept the fact that Cuba belongs to all Cubans, not just to their
slave-drivers and those slaves who agree to submit to the lash. .
So, even though this was a brief encounter, it delivers a potent
Pope Francis linked up with Berta in the midst of a large crowd. Sad to
say, but Benedict XVI would have probably avoided the Lady in White.
This is the
Venezuelan National Assembly under Raúl Castro
April 30 - Several members of
the opposition in the Venezuelan National Assembly were brutally beaten
by chavista thugs.
Among those injured are Julio
Borges (see photo below) and Maria Corina Machado, who was kicked by
several chavistas while she was on the floor, according to reports.
At the same time that the
rejection of the Venezuelan people to the puppet regime installed by the
Castro brothers in Cuba grows, so does the brutality of the Venezuelan
thugs who have betrayed their country and made Venezuela a colony of
Opposition deputy Julio
Borges after the attack by several chavistas inside the National
This is how the National
Assembly looked after the chavista attack on opposition legislators.
repression by Venezuela's National Guard against a 19 year old student
April 21 - His crime? Joining
a protest to ask for a recount of the votes after last Sunday's fraud.
protesting in Havana the arrest of her son
April 21 - A Cuban lady
protesting on April 15 in La Rampa, Havana, right in front of the old
Havana Hilton Hotel.
She was protesting against
the "military terrorism" in Castro's Cuba.
Her son was arrested and she
had been trying to find out for more than a week where he was being held
to no avail.
After a few minutes, Castro's
Gestapo comes in and arrest her for conducting a peaceful protest.
That's Castro's Cuba!
(grocery stores) in Cuba before and after Castro
tell that Venezuela's National Guard is now under Raúl Castro's control
April 18 - Since Sunday's
electoral fraud, the abuses being committed by Venezuela's National
Guard have grown exponentially.
Most Venezuelans are saying
that they have never seen soldiers showing so much cruelty against
innocent civilians, who are only asking for a recount of the votes in
last Sunday presidential election.
There are reports that more
than 50 soldiers and several officer, including 2 generals, have been
arrested for opposing the fraud and refusing to follow orders from Cuban
officer who have been sent by Raúl Castro to make sure that the
illegitimate president, Nicolás Maduro, remains in power.
The only way that Raúl
Castro's puppet can remain as president and providing billions of
dollars to keep Cuba's economy from a complete collapse, is by turning
Venezuela into a police state, like Cuba has been for 54 years.
The Venezuelan people need
the support of all those who believe in freedom, to help them throw the
Cuban invaders out!
Venezuela National Guard soldiers shooting and beating unarmed civilians
This took place in
Barquisimeto, on Tuesday April 16.
Luis Pardo on how to help people in Cuba
April 12 - Orlando Luis Pardo,
blogger, writer and photographer on how to help those Cubans in the
OLP lives in Cuba but he is
currently visiting Miami where this interview took place.
One of the things he mentions
is downloading and sending DVDs with Internet offline to Cuba, like we
are doing through our Webs Paq to Cuba Project.
Yoani Sánchez about the Web Paqs for Cuba project
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
another video from Cuba of a person using the offline Web Paqs
March 12 - We received this
video today of another person in Cuba using the offline Web Paqs to
navigate through several websites blocked by the Cuban regime.
He is using an iPod from
Apple and is able to navigate through websites such as Cubanet and
Generation Y of Yoani Sánchez, without being connected to the Internet.
More than 1,500 Web Paqs have
already reached Cuba
and once there, they have been reproduced into
Cuban blogger Orlando Luis Pardo about Paquetes Web Para Cuba
article proves that Web Paqs for Cuba is on the right track
March 10 - Our new project to
help Cubans inside Cuba to access the websites blockaded by the Castro
regime continues to grow.
offline Web Paqs have already reached Cuba and once
there, they have been reproduced into thousands more.
presentation in Mexico yesterday, Yoani Sánchez mentioned how Cubans are
using flash memory and other types of offline media to circumvent the
blockade of the Internet imposed by the Castro regime:
Expression thrives thanks to flash drives
blogger Yoani Sánchez, speaking at a media forum in Mexico, said Cubans
use computer memory sticks to evade Internet censorship.
Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez on Saturday told newspaper publishers from
around the Western Hemisphere that “nothing is changing” in Cuba’s
ossified political system and that “the situation of press freedom in my
country is calamitous.”
But Sánchez said underground blogs, digital portals and illicit
e-magazines proliferate, passed around on removable computer drives
known as memory sticks. The small computer memories, also known as flash
drives or thumb drives, are dropped into friendly hands on buses and
along street corners, offering a surprising number of Cubans access to
“Information circulates hand-to-hand through this wonderful gadget known
as the memory stick,” Sánchez said, “and it is difficult for the
government to intercept them. I can’t imagine that they can put a police
officer on every corner to see who has a flash drive and who doesn’t.”
Sánchez said “these little gizmos” have “helped us a lot to pass
information.” Continue reading
The Miami Herald
destruction of Havana continues
Feb. 28 - A friend sent me a
picture of the old RCA Building in Havana taken a few days ago.
After years of neglect, the
roof finally caved in and the building is just another ruin, of the
thousands found around Cuba after 54 years of Hurricane Castro.
This is the way it looked a
few years ago, when there were still people living on the top 2 floors.
This is how it looked on
October of 2011, when that same friend took this new photo.
The people living on the top
2 floors were forced to move out because the condition of the building
was getting worse and the government was not doing anything to fix it.
And this is how it looks now,
less than 2 years after he took he previous picture.
The Castro brothers continue
their destruction of Cuba. They are only interested in maintaining the
hotels and other buildings related to tourism, that brings millions of
dollars to their Swiss bank accounts.
But they couldn't care less
about the rest of the island.
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
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