She endured two decades of hell in Castro’s prisons. Now she faces foreclosure in Miami

This article published in the Miami Herald is a heartbreaking story of an 80 years old Cuban lady worthy of reading to the end.

Miami Herald

When Ed Goldfarb pulled up at the modest three-bedroom house a few blocks off Southwest Eighth Street, he knew there would probably be a sad story lurking inside. Homes headed to foreclosure almost always have one, and as a real-estate agent specializing in so-called short sales — where a bank is trying to quickly sell a foreclosed house to get it off the books — Goldfarb had heard them all: Lost job. Death in the family. Divorce. Drugs and booze. Just plain old bad luck.

Goldfarb usually sympathized with the occupants of the homes he sold, but there wasn’t anything he could do for them. He was not a financial adviser (and the people in the houses were always hopelessly past that point anyway) or a grief counselor, just a guy there to get some pictures to show prospective buyers. He never stuck around longer than it took to snap the photos.

But this one was different. When an elderly woman opened the door, Goldfarb’s gaze was immediately riveted by a framed book jacket hanging on the wall: “Diary of a Survivor: Nineteen Years in a Cuban Women’s Prison.” A solemn but graceful young female face peered out from a corner of the cover.

“What’s that about?” asked Goldfarb, unable to contain his curiosity. “About me,” replied the woman, 80-year-old Ana Rodríguez, now six decades or so past the age of her photo on the cover. “About my time in Fidel Castro’s prisons.”

And for the next 45 minutes, it all poured out — everything Ana Rodríguez, Cuba’s longest-held female political prisoner, endured during her nearly two decades of incarceration:

The beatings. The hunger strikes. The brutal days of forced labor under the broiling Cuban sun; the endless months in the suffocating dark of sealed cells. The ferocious guards, the wily rats, the eternal cockroaches.

After he’d heard her story, Goldfarb went home with a copy of the book and a steely conviction that he could not help a bank take this woman’s home.

Ana Rodríguez’s life story — medical student, longtime Cuban political prisoner, exile in Miami — was turned into a book. Now 80, she is facing another crisis.

“Oh my God, she’s paid her dues in life, so many times over,” Goldfarb told a reporter last week. “I think she’s way beyond a hero. This can’t be the way her life ends, living in a car. …

“I’ve spent a day in jail, twice, for mouthing off during divorce cases. And I can tell you that you don’t want to do one day in jail. Twenty years, nobody should ever have to endure that. We’ve got to help her.”

Goldfarb has been writing letters, calling bankers and churning out press releases trying to work out a deal to keep Rodríguez in her home, which is snarled in a thicket of bad loans and worse luck.

Earlier this month, in a last-ditch effort, he created a gofundme account for her. Goldfarb figures it would take $300,000 for Rodríguez to regain control of her home and avoid her Plan B, which is to live in her car.

“I know it’s a lot, “ he said. “But I’m hopeful some well-to-do individuals in the Cuban community can step up and help.”

If not, she’s due to be evicted from her home by the end of the month.

Rodríguez appreciates Goldfarb’s help, but seems resigned that she’ll soon be homeless.

Prison taught me that there’s always hope,” she said. “But this will require something much bigger than hope.”

Continue reading She endured two decades of hell in Castro’s prisons. Now she faces foreclosure in Miami

Memories of a Cuban 5th grader: Profe Barbarita & Politics of Hate

Libertas Blog

Living in Cuba no es fácil . La verdad. But when you are a kid, the problems that anguish your parents don’t even faze you. That is, if your parents were good at hiding those problems from you. And boy, were my parents good.
Cuba has many problems. Food problems. Government problems. Se fue la luz y el agua problems. But more importantly, as any Cuban will tell you, we sometimes have a Chivaton problem.
And that’s how I lost my “political” innocence in the 5th grade.
But first, some lessons in Cuban slang:
Chivato or Chivaton: A police informer, a snitch. The quintessential communist government bootlicker who will ruin your day by reporting you to the authorities for no other reason than to joderte el dia!
My 5th grade teacher, Barbarita, was a Chivaton(a). She was the real deal. I distinctly remember her tears of joy when the U.N had just voted to adopt another one of its useless resolutions condemning the Cuban Embargo.
That rare type of Cuban that you can’t find anymore. The one that doesn’t have to fake a smile at the pro-government marches where employees are coerced to attend. The type who, until this day, unironically refer to Fidel Castro as “Comandante en Jefe”.
Barbara genuinely believed in La revolución, even when La revolución had stopped believing in her.
But what can I say, she was a pleasant person and an exceptional teacher. A woman who in the early 2000s must have been somewhere in her late 40s. Raised during the Cold-war, and like many other Cubans, a survivor of the infamous Periodo Especial. She was battled hardened by material necessity , and if she still believed in Fidel’s Communism after all that, she wasn’t about to change.
Barbara teaches us a lesson about hate.
Sadly, one of my earliest memories of the filth that is ideological orthodoxy comes from her.
I remember that it was a slow day at school. We had just finished all of our assignments and Profe Barbarita allowed the class to get into groups so that we could talk. She was sitting at her desk, reading a book, lost in the pages…..or so we thought.
At some point, in between our prepubescent screeching and super-interesting 5th grader conversations – one of us, probably not me, steered the conversation towards a subject of “Anti-revolutionary” character. Who knows what was said, maybe we made fun of Fidel’s beard, or repeated an anti-government comment we heard at home the day before.
It doesn’t matter. It was enough for Barbara to spring from her creaky chair like a bat out of hell.

Keep reading

Special coverage of everything that is happening in Venezuela today February 23

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3 Venezuelan National Guards defected and asked asylum in Colombia

Venezuelan citizens remove barriers placed overnight by the Maduro, to try to prevent the humanitarian aid from entering Venezuela to save tens of thousands of people starving and without access to the medicines they need

 

 

Maduro says Venezuela is breaking relations with US, gives American diplomats 72 hours to leave country

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president on Wednesday, winning over the backing of the Washington and many Latin American nations and prompting socialist Nicolas Maduro to break relations with the United States.

Speaking to supporters outside the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, socialist leader Maduro said he would give U.S. diplomatic personnel 72 hours to leave Venezuela, which is suffering from a hyperinflationary economic collapse.

U.S. President Donald Trump formally recognized Guaido shortly after his announcement and praised his plan to hold elections. That was swiftly followed by similar statements from Canada and a slew of right-leaning Latin American governments, including Venezuela’s neighbors Brazil and Colombia.

Trump Idiot

The U.S. State Department said in a statement that it would not remove American diplomats because it did not recognize the Maduro regime as the government of Venezuela: “The United States does not consider former president Nicolas Maduro to have the legal authority to break diplomatic relations with the United States or to declare our diplomats persona non grata.”

At a rally that brought hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans into the east of Caracas, Guaido said Maduro had usurped power and promised to create a transitional government that would help the country escape its hyperinflationary economic collapse.

“I swear to assume all the powers of the presidency to secure an end to the usurpation,” 35-year old Guaido, the head of the opposition-run congress, told an exuberant crowd.

Guaido’s declaration takes Venezuela into uncharted territory, with the possibility of the opposition now running a parallel government recognized abroad as legitimate but without control over state functions.

In a televised broadcast from the presidential palace, Maduro accused the opposition of seeking to stage a coup with the support of the United States, which he said was seeking to govern Venezuela from Washington.

“We’ve had enough interventionism, here we have dignity, damn it! Here is a people willing to defend this land,” said Maduro, flanked by top Socialist Party leaders, although the defense minister and members of the military high command were absent. The office of Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino did not answer a phone call seeking comment.

Venezuela, graced with the world’s largest oil reserves, was once the economic envy of South America. The oil-rich nation faces a collapsing economy sparked by government corruption, social unrest and a global commodity bust.

And despite the nation’s economic crisis, Maduro welcomed the deployment of two Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers. The Russian aircraft, capable of carrying nuclear weapons, landed in Caracas last month in a move designed to show Moscow’s support of Venezuela’s socialist regime.

The Pentagon swiftly criticized the Russian deployment of warplanes to Venezuela.

“The Venezuelan government should be focusing on providing humanitarian assistance and aid to lessen the suffering of its people and not on Russian warplanes,” Pentagon spokesman U.S. Army Col. Rob Manning said last month.

Similarly, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the Russian military flight on Twitter writing: “The Russian and Venezuelan people should see this for what it is: two corrupt governments squandering public funds, and squelching liberty and freedom while their people suffer.”

Meanwhile, the Kremlin rejected U.S. criticism saying Pompeo was wrong and undiplomatic to condemn the deployment to Caracas.

“We consider it completely inappropriate,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said following the deployment.

Manning then reminded that the U.S. military deployed the hospital ship USNS Comfort to South America earlier this year to provide humanitarian aid to refugees fleeing the desperate conditions.

Marco Bello | Reuters
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president on Wednesday, winning over the backing of the Washington and many Latin American nations and prompting socialist Nicolas Maduro to break relations with the United States.

Speaking to supporters outside the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, socialist leader Maduro said he would give U.S. diplomatic personnel 72 hours to leave Venezuela, which is suffering from a hyperinflationary economic collapse.

U.S. President Donald Trump formally recognized Guaido shortly after his announcement and praised his plan to hold elections. That was swiftly followed by similar statements from Canada and a slew of right-leaning Latin American governments, including Venezuela’s neighbors Brazil and Colombia.

The U.S. State Department said in a statement that it would not remove American diplomats because it did not recognize the Maduro regime as the government of Venezuela: “The United States does not consider former president Nicolas Maduro to have the legal authority to break diplomatic relations with the United States or to declare our diplomats persona non grata.”

Trump recognizes opposition leader as Venezuelan president  

At a rally that brought hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans into the east of Caracas, Guaido said Maduro had usurped power and promised to create a transitional government that would help the country escape its hyperinflationary economic collapse.

“I swear to assume all the powers of the presidency to secure an end to the usurpation,” 35-year old Guaido, the head of the opposition-run congress, told an exuberant crowd.

Guaido’s declaration takes Venezuela into uncharted territory, with the possibility of the opposition now running a parallel government recognized abroad as legitimate but without control over state functions.

In a televised broadcast from the presidential palace, Maduro accused the opposition of seeking to stage a coup with the support of the United States, which he said was seeking to govern Venezuela from Washington.

“We’ve had enough interventionism, here we have dignity, damn it! Here is a people willing to defend this land,” said Maduro, flanked by top Socialist Party leaders, although the defense minister and members of the military high command were absent. The office of Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino did not answer a phone call seeking comment.

The Kremlin’s support for Venezuela

Mikhail Metzel | TASS |Getty Images
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro shakes hands with his Russia counterpart Vladimir Putin during a meeting at the Moscow Kremlin.

Venezuela, graced with the world’s largest oil reserves, was once the economic envy of South America. The oil-rich nation faces a collapsing economy sparked by government corruption, social unrest and a global commodity bust.

And despite the nation’s economic crisis, Maduro welcomed the deployment of two Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers. The Russian aircraft, capable of carrying nuclear weapons, landed in Caracas last month in a move designed to show Moscow’s support of Venezuela’s socialist regime.

The Pentagon swiftly criticized the Russian deployment of warplanes to Venezuela.

“The Venezuelan government should be focusing on providing humanitarian assistance and aid to lessen the suffering of its people and not on Russian warplanes,” Pentagon spokesman U.S. Army Col. Rob Manning said last month.

Similarly, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the Russian military flight on Twitter writing: “The Russian and Venezuelan people should see this for what it is: two corrupt governments squandering public funds, and squelching liberty and freedom while their people suffer.”

Meanwhile, the Kremlin rejected U.S. criticism saying Pompeo was wrong and undiplomatic to condemn the deployment to Caracas.

“We consider it completely inappropriate,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said following the deployment.

Manning then reminded that the U.S. military deployed the hospital ship USNS Comfort to South America earlier this year to provide humanitarian aid to refugees fleeing the desperate conditions.

U.S. Navy photo
The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort is anchored off the coast of Tumaco, Colombia, during Continuing Promise 2011.

Since its deployment this summer, the Comfort, a vessel transformed from a hulking oil tanker into a 1,000-bed hospital ship, has treated more than 20,000 people along its stops in various Central and South American nations.

“Contrast this with Russia, whose approach to the man-made disaster in Venezuela is to send bomber aircraft instead of humanitarian assistance,” Manning said knocking Moscow’s deployment.

**BREAKING NEWS** Venezuela has a new president and he is immediately recognized by the U.S.!

Juan Guaidó, President of Venezuela’s National Assembly, was sworn in as interim president of the country in front of hundreds of thousands in the nation capital.

Minutes later, the White House said that the U.S. recognizes Guaidó as the “legitimate president of Venezuela”.

Venezuela’s dictator Nicolás Maduro has threatened with putting Guaidó in jail if he was sworn in.

The next few hours should be decisive for the future of Venezuela.

More information as it becomes available.