Obama and Kerry ready to announce that they agreed to everything Raul Castro demanded in order to open an embassy

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Everything is ready for Chapter II of the love affair between Barack Obama and Raul Castro.

On Wednesday, July 1, Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are expected to announce that they have accepted everything that Raúl Castro demanded and are now ready to re-establish relations and open an embassy in Havana and for Castro to open an embassy in D.C. while continuing to oppress, exploit and torture 11 million Cubans.

Everything had been planned in advance, to make sure that the announcement took place before the 4th. of July.

Kerry would love to spend the 4th. of July in Havana with his buddies, even though his vacation trip could be delayed because he broke his leg about a month ago riding a bicycle.

Cuba and FARC, and their Sinister Presence in Venezuela

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By Jerry Brewer  MexiData.Info

Cuba maintains one of its largest intelligence networks in Venezuela (and in Mexico). The late President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela preferred direct access to Cuba’s security service, as indicated by cables that were released and sent from the U.S. Embassy in Caracas to the State Department.
The Cuban security apparatchik remains a key source of Venezuela’s training for its military, and its domestic and foreign security services, as well as for the development and support of people and groups with terror agendas, and to restrain and inhibit opposition to the repressive leftist governments of Venezuela and Cuba.
Many blind eyes and ears are enraged when offered a peek under the espionage umbrella that reports what some believe are old cold war diatribes designed to punish rogue nations for anti-U.S. sentiments.
One good example is the skillfully exploited situation, the charade, by Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) guerrillas.
The efforts to end more than 50 years of conflict in Colombia, through the latest peace talks that began in November of 2012, in Cuba, clearly demonstrate the terrorist group’s desire to gain power and political office; to be forgiven for their atrocities; and to not surrender their arms.
To simply summarize and give credence to this rebel farce, Ivan Marquez, the lead negotiator of FARC, said that people shouldn’t hold high expectations for the peace talks. This as Marquez must see Colombia’s heightened frustrations with the FARC, and its empty words, shenanigans and murderous agenda.
In March, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos agreed to halt aerial bombing in recognition of a unilateral cease-fire called by FARC at Christmastime. However, he subsequently ordered air assaults to resume in response to a rebel attack that killed ten soldiers in April.
Since then both sides have carried out attacks, with the FARC renewing offensive operations and sabotaging roads, pipelines and utilities. Last week four soldiers were killed in northeastern Colombia when a helicopter dropping off troops was destroyed by explosives detonated remotely by the FARC.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, U.S.-based social scientists held a negative view of truces involving violent groups and gangs, believing that those kinds of agreements legitimized gangs, reinforced the authority of their leaders, deepened cohesion among their rank and file, and actually reproduced – rather than reduce – violence. Their perceptions had much merit as evidenced by MS-13 and other gangs in Latin America.
On June 24, U.S. President Barack Obama publicly stated for the first time that the U.S. government “can communicate and negotiate with hostage takers.” This will certainly add many new victims worldwide to at least the minimum of a vast multi-million dollar illicit business of kidnapping and extortion. Kidnap and Ransom insurance (K&R) is growing by leaps and bounds worldwide.
To further complicate the situation and continue the threat, Cuba and Venezuela are joined by Iran with a close and cooperative relationship against the U.S., and in support of terrorist groups and states. Much of this cozy relationship is facilitated though intelligence exchanges, and Cuba’s staunch and highly successful human intelligence network.
This network skillfully and masterfully controls Venezuela’s people via document control and logistics to forge travel documents and facilitate rogue agent travel through borders. Cuba has recently proven to remain adept at harboring terrorists and facilitating weapons movement in violation of UN sanctions.
In an act of profound bewilderment, The White House recently announced that Cuba will be removed from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. This “despite its ties to Marxist, jihadist, and other separatist terrorist organizations,” as stated in a Breitbart News lead last April 14.
President Obama said that Cuba “has not provided any support for international terrorism in six months,” despite the presence of almost every senior official of the FARC. President Obama also claimed that the Cuban government had “provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future.”
Regarding Venezuela, as with Cuba, there is a curious amnesia by President Obama and his advisors as to the misery and violent oppression, imprisonment, murder and disappearances in both nations. It certainly must not mean that U.S. intelligence has failed, for the international media is constantly rife with examples.
Estimates are that around 10,000 highly violent militant grassroots groups, called colectivos, have received training by Cuban security officials along Venezuela’s border with Colombia. They define themselves “as the defenders of revolutionary socialism,” and are a real threat to citizens that reject revolutionary rule and government abuses.
To demonstrate the reality and importance of this strategic and highly tactical operational training and development venue by Cuba, Raul Castro has sent in high-ranking officers – that include generals, commanders, and officials from Cuba’s Interior Ministry.
Cuba and the rogue Venezuelan government’s facilitation with terrorists must be stopped. Even the U.S. DEA has shown direct and growing criminal drug ties between Colombia’s FARC guerrillas and Hezbollah. The Cuban and Venezuelan government’s illicit criminal nexus must be a top priority of astute democratic government’s intelligence in the Western Hemisphere.

Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global threat mitigation firm headquartered in northern Virginia.  His website is located at www.cjiausa.org.

While Cuba’s Catholic Church Bans Relatives of Political Prisoners from Mass: The repression against Christians increases

Reuters Numerous churches in Cuba have reported threats of confiscation or destruction of property, CSW says
Reuters
Numerous churches in Cuba have reported threats of confiscation or destruction of property, CSW says

Churches in Cuba are increasingly being targeted by the government and forced to pay huge sums of money, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has warned.
An annual report into religious freedom in Cuba released last month branded a rise in violations of religious liberty in the country “troubling”. Every Sunday scores of men and women are violently arrested and temporarily imprisoned to stop them attending Mass, and foreign students involved in religious activities have been expelled and had their visas taken away. Additionally, CSW has accused the Cuban government of targeting church properties “to tighten its control over the activities and membership of religious groups and thus eliminate the potential for any social unrest.”
Legislation that came into force in January of this year has been used by the government to seize properties belonging to religious organisations and force them into paying vast sums of money, CSW says.
A national leader of the Apostolic Movement in Cuba, Rev Yiorvis Bravo, had his church confiscated in 2013. Housing Ministry Officials decreed that he could only continue to use the building if he paid a fee of US $300 a month – 15 times the average annual salary in Cuba. Bravo, who maintains he is the legal owner of the property, has thus far refused to pay the sum, and has now been banned from travelling outside of the country.
He was due to visit Peru for a Leadership course on June 29, but received a letter the day beforehand stating that he now not allowed to leave Cuba because of his ‘debts’.
Chief executive of CSW Mervyn Thomas said Bravo’s situation is a “clear demonstration that the strategy behind these expropriations is to exert more control over religious leaders and bodies of faith.”
“We have repeatedly raised concerns about the growing number of churches, registered and unregistered, which have been informed of the arbitrary expropriations of their properties by the government in recent months,” Thomas said.
“We continue to condemn the illegal expropriations of church properties and call on the Cuban government to rescind these orders of confiscation immediately. Furthermore, we call on the Cuban authorities to lift any restrictions on travel for Reverend Bravo without delay.”    Christian Today

Cuba: Catholic Church Bans Relatives of Political Prisoners from Mass

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A Catholic church in the central Cuban city of Cienfuegos has banned female relatives of political prisoners from attending mass unless they no longer wear white, a color associated with political imprisonment in the nation. The slight to families of the abused follows the bewildering remark from Archbishop of Havana Jaime Ortega that Cuba no longer has prisoners of conscience.
Eight members of the Ladies in White activist group have attended Sunday Catholic Mass wearing white for years, sitting in the pews in silence unless participating in the Mass. No reports have surfaced of the women themselves–mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters of prisoners of conscience–disturbing the Mass. Nonetheless, a priest in Cienfuegos expelled them from his service, ordering them never to wear white again in his church if they wish to attend services.
The priest, identified as “Father Tarciso,” told Diario de Cuba that the women were “disrespectful,” stating, “I had told them that the way things are could not continue to be. … I cannot allow our community to be further fractured,” he argued. He accused them of taking photographs inside the church, which the ladies deny. Miladis Espino Díaz, a representative of the Ladies in White, noted that they were expelled from the church and, upon walking out, could hear the priest apologize to those in attendance for not having done it sooner.
“We do not only go to church because we are Ladies in White,” Espino Díaz told the newspaper, “but because we believe in God. We sing, we pray, we participate, we do nothing wrong.”
Following their removal from the church, the women testified to being the victim of a number of offensive acts, including a man “exposing himself and urinating in front of them,” “obscene gestures using fingers,” and “being called prostitutes.”
Offenses to the Ladies in White are common as they attempt to attend Mass; in a particularly gruesome instance last year, one woman was tarred for wearing white to the service.
Two male supporters of the group, Emilio García Moreira and Alexander Veliz García, began a hunger strike Thursday to support the return of the women to Mass.
Catholic religion is heavily regulated in communist Cuba, where it is technically a counterrevolutionary activity but has managed to persist, particularly given overtures by Pope Francis towards the Castro dictatorship. “If he keeps talking like this, I’ll return to the Church,” Raúl Castro said of the Pope this year following his support of major U.S. concessions to the Castro regime. Pope Francis was a direct mediator between President Obama and Raúl Castro before the American head of state chose to strip Cuba of its State Sponsor of Terrorism status–despite no evidence in a change of support to either the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or Hezbollah–in exchange for nothing from Cuba.
Meanwhile, Catholic Mass remains among the most popular locations for mass political arrests. According to the watchdog Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, which keeps a monthly tally of politically motivated arrests in Cuba, authorities made 641 political arrests in May, the latest month for which statistics are available. Out of the 641 arrests, 219 occurred either at a Mass or outside a church, where Ladies in White were arrested before they could attend services. Thirty instances of Mass-related arrests took place in May.
Despite overt targeting on the part of Cuban authorities, Catholic officials have insisted on defending the Cuban government against their congregants. In an interview on Spanish radio this month, Archbishop of Havana Jaime Ortega made the perplexing claim that Cuba no longer houses political prisoners. “When Pope Benedict came [to Cuba], there was a pardon of the common prisoners, because there are no political prisoners left in Cuba anymore,” he alleged.
Multiple human rights groups have confirmed that there are at least 71 political prisoners in Cuba, with others arrested on vague charges of disturbing public order and “counterrevolutionary activities” that may also be politically motivated. Cuban activists have reacted with horror to Ortega’s remarks, particularly in light of a scheduled visit to the island by Pope Francis himself in September. The visit, said 17-year political prisoner Jorge Luis García Pérez, will be “a very dangerous visit, because it will serve to legitimize the regime like never before.” Berta Soler, head of the Ladies in White group, responded with similar outrage, given that Ortega’s remarks render the families of the women in her group nonexistent. “We find it deplorable that Cardinal [Ortega] uses the same rhetoric as the Cuban government. The Catholic Church should not be biased; it should protect and shelter every suffering, defenseless person,” she said in a statement.

Breitbart News

China could deploy nuclear weapons in Cuba, says report

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China could risk a repeat of the Cuban Missile Crisis by deploying its DF-31 intercontinental ballistic missile to Cuba if the United States decides to deploy tactical nuclear missiles to the Asia-Pacific, according to Fujian-based news portal Taihainet.
Nuclear non-proliferation laws prevent the US from deploying nuclear weapons to South Korea or any members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The nearest deployment it would be able to get to China would be Japan or Australia, both countries where the public does not want such weapons on their soil. The US government is only able to work with them in secret, according to the report.
The deployment of a nuclear weapon in any shape or form to the Asia-Pacific would most likely backfire in the form of anti-American resentment among strategic allies. The only way the US could inch closer to China’s soil and prevent a diplomatic crisis would be to deploy the weapons to Guam.
With its own nuclear arsenal, China has various ways to defend against the deployment of American nuclear weapons to the region. One would be to deploy DF-31 ICBM to Cuba, only 145 kilometers away from Florida’s Key West. The DF-31 is reported to have a range of 11,200 kilometers. Armed with either neutron or nuclear warheads, the missiles could devastate targets on US soil, according to the report.

Want China Times

The Musician Calling BS on the ‘Cuba Libre’ Lies

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Jorge Gomez has always fallen afoul of the Cuban authorities—and now he’s planning a musical about growing up under Castro’s dictatorship.

Growing up in Cuba, Jorge Gomez would sneak up to his roof with a metal coat hanger late at night and fashion it into a makeshift antenna, desperate to pick up sound waves from Miami radio stations.

The fuzzy, clipped beats and melodies that crossed the ocean were unlike anything he’d heard in the streets of Cuba—and forbidden in Castro’s police state.

They niggled him while he labored over Liszt, Beethoven, and Brahms in Havana at La ENA, Cuba’s only music conservatory. He never dreamed that he would one day arrive on the shores of Florida and listen to this music on his own static-free radio, with the volume dialed all the way up.

Having fled Castro’s dictatorship twenty years ago, Gomez, 44, is a pianist, songwriter, and the founding member of Tiempo Libre, which bills itself as “the first authentic all-Cuban timba band in the United States.” (Their sixth album, Panamericano, comes out on Tuesday.)

Arriving in the U.S. in 2000, Gomez settled in Miami and reunited with childhood friends whom he studied with at La ENA. Within a year, he convinced six of them to start a timba band and bring Cuban dance music to the States.  Music producers were convinced timba would never take off in the U.S.

“People would say I needed to play Mexican or Country music to sell albums,” Gomez tells me in his heavy Spanish accent. “But I didn’t come to this country to sell albums. I came to play my music. I came to be happy with what I do and who I am.”

They were wrong about timba: U.S. audiences loved its unique sound of Afro-Caribbean rhythms and jazz harmonies infused with funk and contemporary R&B beats. And Gomez did sell albums, three of which have been nominated for Grammy awards, including Bach in Havana (2009), which earned Tiempo Libre respect from the classical community.

That same year, they collaborated with renowned violinist Joshua Bell on his album, At Home With Friends, and performed with him on The Tonight Show. Fusing Baroque and Afro-Cuban music was an innovative passion project for Gomez and the other Tiempo Libre bandmembers who were forbidden to play anything but classical music at the conservatory.

Gomez’s life in Cuba couldn’t have been more different from the affluence displayed in T magazine several weeks ago in a story a provocatively titled “Cuba Libre.”

It featured a recently restored, pre-revolution Havana mansion, where an American woman, Pamela Ruiz, lives with her Cuban husband, the artist Damian Aquiles.

Ruiz immigrated to Cuba in the mid-90s after meeting Aquiles while scouting locations there for an American ad campaign. (Critically, Ruiz maintained her U.S. citizenship and, with it, her savings and income.)

Several years after arriving, Ruiz began a nine-year process of acquiring a dilapidated,100-year-old estate from an old woman. Ruiz and Aquiles have hosted a slew of rich and famous Americans since completing renovations last year, including Will Smith, his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith, and fashion designer Proenza Schouler.

Six months after President Obama lifted the 50-year embargo against the island, restoring diplomacy between the two countries, the magazine’s glossy feature of Ruiz and Aquiles’ “cultural salon” offers a utopian vision of a new Cuba: wealth in the form of art deco furniture instead of capitalist monstrosities like McDonald’s and Starbucks, and Cuba’s rich culture not just preserved but revitalized.

But outside the confines of Ruiz and Aquiles’ Havana villa, there is no “Cuba Libre.”

“It’s very easy to talk about things you don’t really know. You have to live it,” says Gomez, “Tourists go to Cuba and stay in hotels where they have everything they need. If you’re Cuban, you have nothing.”

After Gomez graduated from the conservatory at age 18 in 1990, his limited future was dictated by the Cuban government: he could either continue studying classical music for another five years or spend two years in the army.

“My heart was in Cuban dance music, not classical, so I joined the army,” Gomez tells me.

The Berlin Wall had fallen a year earlier, precipitating the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, which had been subsidizing Cuba since the mid-’60s.

Gomez spent his first year in military service training for combat. His musical talent allowed him to trade his gun for a piano during his second year, when he traveled to different military bases entertaining disheartened Cuban soldiers.

He earned 7 pesos a month—roughly $1—during his two years of service.

He returned home in 1992 to find his house as decrepit as Castro’s Communism: crumbling walls, a busted plumbing system, a collapsing ceiling.

Gomez worked as many tourism jobs as he could during the next three years, pocketing enough money in tips to incrementally rebuild his family home. But the reparations did not go unnoticed by the government.

“They said to me, ‘Where are you buying those materials? You know it’s illegal.’ I said, ‘Yes, I know, but if I don’t fix my home I’m going to die!’”

They threatened to throw him in jail if he continued.

“You support Communism, and then they put you in jail for fighting for your life. You think, ‘Wait a second, there’s something really wrong here.’”

Cuba had also plunged into famine, so Gomez and his mother were surviving on a diet of potatoes and white rice. He weighed only 90 pounds when he fled Cuba for Guatemala in 1995.

Gomez’s service in the military would prove crucial to his escape: the government gave him and his mother permission to visit family in Guatemala for several weeks. He arrived at the airport in Havana with one bag, knowing that anything more would betray his plan to leave Cuba for good.

“I left my whole life in that house,” he says. “Pictures, two pianos, my car—everything.”

Throughout Gomez’s life, the Castro regime had drummed into his head that Cuba was “the best country in the world,” he tells me, wide-eyed.

Guatemala was wracked by crime, but its people were free.

He recalls going to a Guatemalan street kiosk the first day he was there and seeing “meat” all over the menu.

“In Cuba, I would have gone to jail for thirty years if I was caught eating meat! I was afraid to eat it.”

That same day, he put an ad in the newspaper offering piano lessons in exchange for computer and web tutoring. Two days later, he landed a job writing 30-second jingles for Coca-Cola.

Rubbing his hands, Gomez leans towards me as if to confess a secret or recount a horrible memory.

“I made more money in eight hours living in Guatemala than I did my whole life in Cuba!” he says with a smile.

Gomez has returned to Cuba twice since he fled 20 years ago, but his old friends don’t want to hear his stories of opportunity—of meat and money and freedom.

It’s not uncommon for people in Communist and ex-Communist societies to be skeptical of entrepreneurial ambition.

They associate it with corrupt upward mobility and a willingness to work for one’s oppressors, unable to recognize their own oppression.

It’s understandable then that Gomez’s friends in Cuba—where there’s been a maximum wage for decades; where less than 5 percent of citizens have heavily-monitored Internet access; where literacy rates are high but they can only read propaganda; where healthcare is free but the country lacks basic medical supplies—are skeptical of his fortunes and freedom.

So while Americans on the left, nostalgic for a dystopian fantasy of authentic Cuba, whinge about the prospect of McDonalds and mini-malls wiping out Cuban culture, Gomez (and many analysts) say they don’t have to worry about that.

“If they put a Starbucks in Cuba, no one will touch it,” says Gomez. “People in Cuba will still drink Cuban coffee.”

Cubans may be desperate for free speech and an end to food rations, but according to analysts, they’re not exactly dreaming of McDonalds’ golden arches. Even if there is political change within the country, the shift will likely be towards socialism.

Never mind that after Raul Castro made a deal with President Obama, he told his people that he would welcome U.S.-Cuban diplomacy “without renouncing a single one of our principles.”

Unless those principles are dramatically different from the totalitarian ones that the Castro regime has forced on its people since 1959, restless Cubans (and T magazine) can kiss their hopes of a “Cuba Libre” goodbye.

Meanwhile, Gomez is gearing up for his own ‘Cuba Libre.’ That’s the title of a Broadway-bound musical Tiempo Libre will be performing on stage in Portland, Oregon come October. “It tells the collective stories of Tiempo Libre’s band members growing up in Cuba under Castro’s dictatorship.”

“A lot of musical theater only shows the good parts about Cuba,” says Gomez. “I know people prefer to see Spiderman than a musical about Communism, but I want to tell the real story. And I don’t want to tell people they have to know and see this story. I want them to want to see it, to be drawn in by the music.”

The Daily Beast

Cardinal Sins – A Castro cleric brings disgrace

JaimeOrtegaRaulCastroSentados

Have you heard about the awful Cardinal hack scandal? It brings shame and obloquy upon a respected organization which has spent many years building up its good name. How could moral myopia prevail at such a critical time? What manner of insensitivity and obtuseness would lead to such unconscionable behavior?
What’s that you say… the Saint Louis Cardinals hacking into the Houston Astros scouting reports…?
Oh, no, no, not about baseball at all. I was referring to the Cardinal of Cuba, Jaime Ortega, revealing himself to be a shameless political hack. Yes, it is true. The cleric, in Spain for a conference, was asked by reporters about the conditions of political prisoners in Cuba. His response: THERE ARE NO political prisoners in Cuba. Mercifully he stopped right there and did not treat us to a treatise about the exemplary democracy of the island nation, thriving merrily under the avuncular gaze of those benevolent Castro brothers.
So, I suppose, Yippee! Castro’s prisons are empty now, leaving extra space for other uses. Perhaps they can open more of those wonderful medical schools Michael Moore featured in his documentary. A Castro Convertible, as it were.

his whole Cuban business is thoroughly disheartening. A formerly thriving country had its kleptocracy replaced by a theocracy, the theology in this case being Communism. In the old days the government made out like bandits and the people made out like people. Instead the government is a bunch of superannuated sanctimonious creeps and the people are a mass of penniless hostages. Greed has been replaced by need: how lovely!
All this happened over half a century ago. The United States expressed its moral disapproval in the form of an economic embargo. The result has been a pathetic standoff where we do not buy their cigars nor sell them our cars. None of this has fazed the Artful Codgers who run the place like a failed experiment. If political science is a form of science (questionable premise) then Cuba is a dysfunctional world out of political science fiction.
Along comes President Obama to point out that the policy has not “worked” and it is time to try a new approach. That sounds great for the five seconds requisite to withstand TV news scrutiny. Naturally the “new approach” turns out to be moral abdication. This reminds us of the famous remark by an elderly gentleman in the 1960s: “This New Morality sounds to me a lot like the old immorality.”
Of course the old approach has not “worked” if working is limited to complete success in restoring the island nation to normalcy. However, the policy has worked very well indeed at achieving its moral objective. It has left Cuba isolated as a moral pariah, a cautionary tale, a stink bomb. When we lift the embargo we lift the white flag of moral surrender.
“We are beginning a new relationship with the people of Cuba,” intoned our trend-setting President, thereby committing the Sobran Fallacy. The late Joseph Sobran was the first to identify this rhetorical trick of the Left. They speak of their fraternization with the captors as if it is a form of communion with the captives. If, say, we initiate friendly talks with Boka Haram in Nigeria, is that a way of beginning a new relationship with the schoolgirls they have kidnapped? No way! Sucking up to the Castros is not a way to reach out to the people of Cuba.
Here in South Florida the media are happy to be the mouthpiece for this drivel. We hear a steady drumbeat of cheerful echoes supposedly emanating from the island. Yes, Cubans are excited! They are ecstatic! They are upbeat! They are hopeful! Then the propaganda is upended by that pesky bugaboo of the left; namely, reality. A few days ago Hallandale Beach bathers were startled to be joined by four desperate rafters. Apparently they still like their chances better broke and barefoot in Florida than basking in the Communist paradise.
Which brings us back to the pathetic hack, Cardinal Ortega, who went to Spain and ran with the bulls***. His congregants look to him in vain for guidance along the pathways of conscience. If businessmen have sold out, if politicians have sold out, our last slender hope reposes in the hardy souls of our clergy. When they betray that hope, the tyrants own us outright.  American Spectator

Andrés Oppenheimer: Maduro’s campaign strategy: a border war with Colombia?

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Eager to divert attention from a world-record inflation rate, massive food shortages and other self-inflicted economic problems that could lead to an opposition victory in the Dec 6 legislative elections, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is pulling a trick of last resort for embattled demagogues: reviving a dormant territorial controversy to stir nationalist passions.

It seems too crass, too obvious. But Maduro, whose popularity has plummeted to about 20 per cent, seems to have concluded that resurrecting an old border controversy with neighboring Guyana and, more importantly, a border conflict Colombia, will change the conversation in Venezuela away from the shortages of meat, milk and coffee, or from the sky-high inflation rate, which according to a new Bank of America report is likely to reach 172 per cent this year.
Maduro’s previous political excuses, including blaming Venezuela’s economic disaster on an alleged “economic war” by US-backed oligarchs, are no longer working. After 15 years in power, during which much of Venezuela’s private sector has been decimated and corrupt pseudo-revolutionaries have become immensely rich, it’s becoming increasingly harder for Venezuela’s radical leftist regime to blame others for the country’s collapse.
Earlier this week, Maduro announced that he will call for a “civic-military union” to confront an “international manoeuvre from the right to provoke Venezuela with border problems.” The alleged “manoeuvre” was led by ExxonMobil and Guyana, which announced a significant offshore oil find in a bid called by Guyana in ‘disputed’ waters in the Caribbean, Maduro said.
Shortly after ExxonMobil’s announcement, Venezuela issued a decree on May 26 claiming the Caribbean waters where the oil discovery took place as its own. But Maduro’s decree went a step further: it announced four “operational defence areas” to defend Venezuela’s sovereignty in several disputed areas, including an area that is claimed by both Venezuela and Colombia.
That, in turn, led to a formal protest by Colombia, whose president, Juan Manuel Santos, said that Maduro’s decree amounted to a “violation of Colombia’s rights,” and demanded that Venezuela immediately “rectify the content” of its decree.
Many political strategists speculate that Maduro might find an eager sparring partner in Santos. Colombia’s president, who made his mark by improving relations with Venezuela during his first term, might profit politically from escalating border tensions with Venezuela ahead of Colombia’s October elections for governors and mayors, they say.
“Santos is politically weak right now, and could benefit from playing the nationalist card,” says Mauricio de Vengochea, a Miami-based political consultant who advises politicians in Colombia and Venezuela. “We can’t forget that there is a big anti-Maduro sentiment in Colombia.”
In addition, Santos no longer needs Venezuela as much as in the past to reach a peace agreement with Colombia’s FARC guerrillas. Unlike late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, Maduro doesn’t have as much leverage with the guerrillas, which allows Santos to take some distance from Venezuela without endangering his peace negotiations with the FARC, some argue.
A border skirmish between Venezuela and Colombia in coming months, most likely started by Venezuela, is not unthinkable, political insiders in both countries tell me.
Less than 30 years ago, on Aug 9, 1987, the two countries almost went to war when the Venezuelan frigate Libertad confronted a Colombian navy ship over disputed waters. Maduro’s May 26 decree that included disputed waters under Venezuela’s “operational defense areas” amounted to a similar Venezuelan provocation, many Colombians say.
My opinion: Maduro’s electoral strategy to win the Dec 6 legislative elections — in addition to a dubious election process in which he will monopolize television time, keep opposition leaders in jail under phony charges, and prohibit European Union and Organization of American States observers from watching the vote — will be to escalate border tensions with Guyana and Colombia.
Venezuela’s neighbors and Washington should not allow one single life to be lost over these artificially resurrected border conflicts. When Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff visits Washington next week, President Barack Obama should cite the danger of a senseless border war in her neighborhood as one of his major arguments to convince her to step up Latin American pressure on Maduro to stop behaving like a tropical, 19th-century tyrant.
Inflating a dormant border conflict to stir nationalist passions is the oldest trick in the demagogues’ manual. But it has worked before, and Maduro is showing that, now that his blame game against the “US-backed oligarchy” has lost steam, he will use it as his main strategy to retain absolute power.

Stabroek News

Antonio Castro bodyguards attacked photographers filming him having dinner at a luxurious restaurant in Turkey

Lea la noticia en español: Martí Noticias

Antonio Castro, one of the sons of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, got upset when reporters in Turkey were taking photographs, while he was having dinner with a group of friends at a restaurant in Turkey.

Three of his bodyguards attacked photographers from a news agency for filming the younger Castro during his millionaire vacation in Turkey’s resort district of Bodrum on Wednesday, according to the Doğan news agency.
Castro had dinner at a restaurant in Bodrum with 12 friends, including some Turks, on Wednesday night.
As Castro left the restaurant at around 11 p.m., he noticed that he was being caught on camera by a Doğan reporter and went back inside in a rage, according to Doğan.
Castro went hiding in the restaurant’s kitchen for about a half hour before he went out and left the premises in his car, which was brought to the front of the restaurant.
After Castro left the area, a Turk and two Cubans, who were reportedly his bodyguards, punched and threatened the Doğan photographers, attempting to take their cameras.
One of then, Yaşar Anter, sustained a minor injury as a result of being punched.
While the two Cuban bodyguards fled the scene, the Turkish bodyguard, H.K., was briefly detained by the police.
A group of people who accompanied Castro at the restaurant also left in a van.
Castro recently came to Bodrum aboard his multi-million dollar 165 foot yacht from the Greek island of Mykonos and booked five suites at a luxury hotel for himself and those accompanying him.
And there are still ignorant people who think the Castrobrothers made a ‘revolution’ to help the poor!
While the slave workers in Cuba make an average of $20/month, the Castros live a luxurious life comparable with that of the world’s richest billionaires.
And all their money comes from dealing in stolen properties, drug trafficking, money laundering and slave trading of Cuban professionals for hard currency.

The Castros use Cuba as if it was their own farm and the 11 million Cubans as their peons.

Watch the video:

Another people-to-people-trip: Chemistry teacher on a private school trip to Cuba ‘caught having drunken sex with a diving instructor’

Hayley Dimmock, 28, is banned from teaching indefinitely for getting drunk at a party and failing to make sure pupils were safely back in their rooms

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A chemistry teacher on a school trip to Cuba had drunken sex with a diving instructor whilst supposedly looking after pupils, a conduct hearing was told.
Hayley Dimmock, 28, who taught at £9,000-a-term Bedford School, also allowed a male pupil to run his hands up her ankle and inner thigh, touch her bottom and put her iPod in the front pocket of her shorts.
The “young and inexperienced teacher” then drank at a party and went to a diving instructor’s room for sex instead of making sure pupils were safely back in their rooms.
However two members of staff passing the room were able to see what was happening through a gap in the curtains and had to stop pupils walking past.
Despite being given four formal warnings about her behaviour on the trip in July 2014, on returning to the Bedford School Ms Dimmock spent half an hour alone with the pupil at his home.
Ms Dimmock started work at the school in September 2012 but was fired in November last year after an investigation by school’s head of science who had been on the trip.
He found Ms Dimmock and the pupil who was beside her all the time had “too much physical contact”.
He considered that from the way the pupil and Ms Dimmock had been acting she had been “intimate with him for a while.”
A biology teacher also “witnessed Ms Dimmock undertaking ‘intimate whispers’ and private conversations and general touching with the pupil.”
She added “the relationship with the colleagues deteriorated” and had spent most of her time with pupils and dive staff but the “liaison” with the instructor had left her “embarrassed.”
Banning her the panel added: “By Ms Dimmock’s own admission she spent the night in the diving instructor’s room and therefore could not be supervising students.
“The panel found that Ms Dimmock’s conduct was a clear failure to safeguard and supervise students under her care. Having sexual relations whilst she was meant to be supervising students was a failure to adhere to professional boundaries.
“In addition, Ms Dimmock staying overnight in a room that was located close to students’ accommodation was also a clear failure to act within or adhere to professional boundaries, as it was possible that Ms Dimmock could have been seen or heard by students.”
Her drinking and having sex “could have led to students being exposed to or influenced by her inappropriate behaviour in a harmful way.”
It ruled she had overstepped her “professional boundaries.”
She was banned indefinitely but can apply to be reinstated on the register in three years.

The Telegraph