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21st Anniversary of the murder of the BTTR pilots by orders of Raúl Castro

On February 24, 1996, Mario Manuel de la Peña, age 24; Armando Alejandre, Vietnam War Veteran, age 45; Carlos Alberto Costa Pino, age 29 and Pablo Morales, age 29 were murdered when Cuban MIGs shot their small civilian airplanes over international waters.

They were flying in a group of three small Cessna airplanes on a humanitarian search and rescue mission for the non-profit organization “Brothers to the Rescue.”

Two occupants perished in each of the two aircraft destroyed; no remains were recovered.

Brothers to the Rescue flew thousands of volunteer missions to spot rafters at sea fleeing Cuba, notifying the U.S. Coast Guard of their location so they would be rescued.

The organization also took food, water and clothing to rafters held in detention centers in nearby countries.

The Cuban government’s actions were denounced by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Cuba and condemned by the International Civil Aviation Organization.

The families of the victims obtained a judgment in U.S. Superior Court against the Cuban government for premeditated murder.

Cuban Interior Minister Fernández Gondín just became a “good communist”

International Herald Tribune

Cuban Interior Minister Carlos Fernandez Godin died on Saturday in Havana after a lengthy battle with a “chronic illness,” authorities announced. He was 78.

Fernandez Godin, who fought in the Cuban Rebel Army before the Revolution, was promoted from first deputy interior minister to head the ministry in October 2015, replacing Abelardo Colome, who had served in that capacity since 1989 but who had resigned due to health problems.

According to his will, Fernandez Godin will be cremated and his ashes will be honored at the Pantheon of Veterans in Havana’s Colon cemetery until they are interred in the Second Front Mausoleum in Santiago de Cuba, where the minister will receive military honors.

The tyrant is dead and on his way to Hell!

Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, responsible for the death of tens of thousands of innocent people and the destruction of the Cuban nation has finally died! Cubans in Miami react to his death.

fideldead

Los Angeles Times

Within half an hour of the Cuban government’s official announcement that former President Fidel Castro had died, Miami’s Little Havana teemed with life — and cheers.

Thousands of people banged pots with spoons, waved Cuban flags in the air and whooped in jubilation on Calle Ocho — 8th Street, and the heart of the neighborhood — early Saturday. Honking and strains of salsa music from car stereos echoed against stucco buildings, and fireworks lit up the humid night sky.

Police blocked off streets leading to Cafe Versailles, the quintessential Cuban American hot spot where strong cafecitos — sweetened espresso — were as common as a harsh word about Fidel Castro.

“Cuba si! Castro no!” they chanted, while others screamed “Cuba libre!”

Celebration, not grief, permeated the atmosphere. That was no surprise. Castro has cast a shadow over Miami for decades, and in many ways, his policy and his power have shaped the city and its inhabitants.

Cubans fled the island to Miami, Tampa, New Jersey and elsewhere after Castro took power in 1959. Some were loyalists of Fulgencio Batista, the president prior to Castro, while others left with the hope they would be able to return soon, after Castro was toppled. He never was.

Many others believed they would not be truly free under Castro and his communist regime. Thousands left behind their possessions, loved ones, and hard-earned educations and businesses, traveling to the U.S. by plane, boat or raft. Many Cubans died on the ocean trip to South Florida. And many never returned to see their childhood homes, their neighborhoods, their playgrounds, their businesses, their cousins and aunts and uncles, because Castro was still in power.

The ones that made it to Miami took a largely, and vehemently, anti-Castro stance.

On New Year’s Eve every year, Cubans in Miami utter a toast in Spanish as they hoist glasses of liquor: “Next year in Cuba.” But as the Cuban exiles aged, and as Castro outlived them, and as U.S. President Barack Obama eroded the embargo and younger Cubans returned to the island, the toast rang silent in many households.

In Miami, where Havana is closer both geographically and psychologically than Washington, the news of Castro’s death was long anticipated by the exiles who left after Castro took power, and in the decades since. Rumors have come and gone for decades, and Castro’s death had become something of a joke — mostly because it seemed to happen so frequently.

This time, though, it was real.

“I don’t celebrate. Nobody does. You can’t celebrate somebody’s death. I just hope for democracy,” said Arnold Vidallet, a 48-year-old financial adviser who was woken by relatives with the news and who went to Domino Park, in the heart of Little Havana, to witness history unfolding.

Cuba si! Castro no!
A couple of blocks away, at the Bay of Pigs memorial, Antonio Hernandez, 76, rode his bicycle up in a light rain and stood at the eternal flame that honors the men who tried, and failed, to wrest Cuba from Castro’s grip in 1961.

“Everybody’s happy. Now this guy won’t do any more damage,” said Hernandez, who came to Miami on the Mariel boatlift in 1980. “His brother will now go down, too. But the world has to pay attention to this, not just we Cubans.”

Many Cubans made successful livings and raised families in Miami despite having to learn a new language and start their lives over. Exiles who arrived as teenagers with no money in their pockets became millionaires, political leaders, clergy members, teachers — influential members contributing to the sturdy fabric of American society.

Cemeteries in South Florida abound with the remains of those who fiercely wished Castro had died before them. Their children weep today because they could not see their parents and grandparents return to Cuba under a democratic regime, to see their homeland one more time.

Gabriel Morales, a 40-year-old financial executive, monitored social media early Saturday from his home in Miami. His parents both left Cuba decades ago. His father left Cuba before Castro took over, and then returned to visit during Castro’s regime. He vowed never to return until the regime changed, Morales said.

Morales’ mother left after Castro assumed power; her family had their property appropriated by the government, Morales said.

“Feels weird,” Morales said in a text message to an Associated Press reporter. “Been waiting to hear this news all my life. Seems unreal.”

 

Too broke for boats, Cubans inflate condoms to find big fish

condomfishing

CBS News

Juan Luis Rosello sat for three hours on the Malecon as the wind blew in from the Florida Straits, pushing the waves hard against the seawall of Havana’s coastal boulevard.

As darkness settled and the wind switched direction, Rosello pulled four condoms from a satchel and began to blow them up. When the contraceptives were the size of balloons, the 47-year-old cafeteria worker tied them together by their ends, attached them to the end of a baited fishing line and set them floating on the tide until they reached the end of his 750-foot line.

After six decades under U.S. embargo and Soviet-inspired central planning, Cubans have become masters at finding ingenious solutions with extremely limited resources. Few are as creative as what Havana’s fishermen call “balloon fishing,” a technique employing a couple of cents worth of condoms to pull fish worth an average month’s salary from the ocean.

On any given night in Havana, dozens of men can be found “balloon fishing” along the Havana seawall, using their homemade floats to carry their lines as far as 900 feet into the coastal waters, where they also serve to keep the bait high in the water and to increase the line’s resistance against the pull of a bonito or red snapper.

“No one can cast the line that far by hand,” said Ivan Muno, 56, who was fishing alongside Rosello.

For four more hours, he sat silently as the dark sea pounded the rocks below the seawall, algae flashing green in the waves beneath an enormous creamy moon, the sounds of the city muffled by the wind and water. By midnight, he was heading home without a catch, but planning to return soon.

“This is the most effective way to fish,” Rosello said. “Someone got this great idea and I can be here all night with the balloons out.”

After six decades under U.S. embargo and Soviet-inspired central planning, Cubans have become masters at finding ingenious solutions with extremely limited resources. Few are as creative as what Havana’s fishermen call “balloon fishing,” a technique employing a couple of cents worth of condoms to pull fish worth an average month’s salary from the ocean.

On any given night in Havana, dozens of men can be found “balloon fishing” along the Havana seawall, using their homemade floats to carry their lines as far as 900 feet into the coastal waters, where they also serve to keep the bait high in the water and to increase the line’s resistance against the pull of a bonito or red snapper.

“No one can cast the line that far by hand,” said Ivan Muno, 56, who was fishing alongside Rosello.

For four more hours, he sat silently as the dark sea pounded the rocks below the seawall, algae flashing green in the waves beneath an enormous creamy moon, the sounds of the city muffled by the wind and water. By midnight, he was heading home without a catch, but planning to return soon.

“This is the most effective way to fish,” Rosello said. “Someone got this great idea and I can be here all night with the balloons out.”

While thousands of Cubans suffer, the Castros refuse to accept US help

baracoa

The Telegraph

Cuba has turned down offers from the United States of assistance to rebuild their country in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, in a sign that the relationship between the Cold War foes remains frustratingly frosty.

Several US-based charities have said the Cuban government is refusing to let them fly in aid, while the US government’s international development department, USAID, told The Sunday Telegraph that they have not sent any relief to Cuba – despite sending millions of dollars in assistance to other affected countries.

Fidel Castro, now 90, set the tone, stating after President Barack Obama’s historic March visit: “We don’t need the empire to give us anything.”

And his government seems determined to prove him right.

“We have not received a request from the government of Cuba for assistance,” said a spokesman for USAID. By contrast, the US has been highly active in Haiti, Jamaica and the Bahamas, and contributed significant funds since the October 4 hurricane – the most ferocious storm in almost a decade.

Hurricane Matthew devastated swathes of the Caribbean – flattening houses, ripping up power lines and smashing crops. Almost 1,000 people were killed or injured in Haiti – the worst affected country – and 1.4 million left in need of aid.

Cuba has not reported any fatalities, but the oldest town in the country, Baracoa – founded on the spot where Christopher Columbus first set foot – was ripped apart.

Wildy Bernot Rodriguez, who runs the Canacuba B&B, gathered 40 people inside his home to weather out the storm – including his wife Merqui, two toddlers Nathan and Hadassa, and two-month-old Aron.

“It’s absolutely terrible what has happened,” he told The Sunday Telegraph. “It is incredible hard. We’ve gone back in time 100 years.

“It’s over for us.”

That there were no fatalities is due to the efforts of the Cuban authorities, who had worked hard to evacuate 1.3 million people from as much of the high-risk areas as possible.

Volunteer civil defence members went door to door, advising residents to evacuate, while Cuban state TV ran storm advisories on a loop and officials blared warnings from vehicles with loudspeakers.

Continue reading While thousands of Cubans suffer, the Castros refuse to accept US help

Colombian University Students Paint Over Controversial Che Guevara Mural

chemural

PanAmPost

On the night of Tuesday, October 18, a group of students painted one of the most emblematic walls of the National University of Colombia.

A group of college students allegedly painted over the face of Che Guevara over night, possibly in response to university officials being indecisive about whether to paint over the imagine or not themselves.

The wall makes up the back of the Leon De Greiff Santander auditorium facing what is commonly referred to as the school’s “Che” plaza. The university was famous for having painted the image of the guerilla leader there in the 1980s.

A survey conducted through student email revealed that most people on campus did not agree with the presence of the image.

Che was one of the guerrillas more representative of the Cuban Revolution. Students critical of his image claimed the main square of the school should represent all students, not just those who share his ideology.

The image was painted in the ’80s when a group of masked students removed the statue of Francisco de Paula Santander from the square, which until that date bore his name.

This is the second attempt to remove Che’s image. During the first time, a group of students broke the paint-rollers of those seeking to paint a different image over that of Che.

One of the students in an interview with the website Vice News said that they want to eliminate the image of “Che” and paint something that best represents the student community and the history of Colombia.

The painted image was released on Twitter by a councilman as a complaint. However, it has provoked many reactions from both those wanting to remove the image and those who want it to stay.