Monthly Archives: May 2016

Will Carnival be next? Cubans found hiding in ship carrying filming equipment of Fast and Furious 8


La Prensa

Florida authorities found three Cubans hiding in a cargo ship arriving from Cuba and which was carrying filming equipment used in the shooting of the movie “Fast and Furious 8”.

Spokespersons for Port Everglades in Broward County, South Florida, confirmed to EFE that the Cubans were found inside a cargo ship arriving at the maritime terminal, one of the world’s busiest ports which recorded more than 3.7 million passengers in 2015.

The Cubans, whose identities have not been revealed, were then handed over to the local office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The eighth installment of the “Fast and Furious” series, starring Vin Diesel, was shot in Havana a few weeks ago and there are plans to shoot more scenes in New York City.

Cubans who touch land on U.S. territory are favored by the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 and its policy of ‘dry feet/wet feet’ which means they can stay in the country, while those who are intercepted before reaching the coast are deported to the island.

Last fiscal year from Oct. 1, 2014 to Sep. 30, 2015, more than 43,000 Cubans came to the U.S., representing a rise of more than 77 percent compared to the previous period, according to the CBP.

The restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries in July 2015, with the opening of embassies, has raised fears that immigrant benefits to Cubans will be curbed, while immigration experts say the renewed ties have led to a fresh exodus from the Caribbean island to the United States.

XXI Century Socialism: Hungry Venezuelans Hunt Dogs, Cats, Pigeons as Food Runs Out



Economic Crisis and Food Shortages Lead to Looting and Hunting Stray Animals

Ramón Muchacho, Mayor of Chacao in Caracas, said the streets of the capital of Venezuela are filled with people killing animals for food.

Through Twitter, Muchacho reported that in Venezuela, it is a “painful reality” that people “hunt cats, dogs and pigeons” to ease their hunger.


People are also reportedly gathering vegetables from the ground and trash to eat as well.

The crisis in Venezuela is worsening everyday due in part to shortages reaching 70 percent. This to go along with the world’s highest level of inflation.

The population’s desperation has begun to show, with looting and robberies for food increasing all the time. This Sunday, May 1, six Venezuelan military officials were arrested for stealing goats to ease their hunger, as there was no food at the Fort Manaure military base.

Read More: Venezuelan Army Vehicle Caught with 88 Pounds of Marijuana
The week before, various regions of the country saw widespread looting of shopping malls, pharmacies, supermarkets and food trucks, all while people chanted “we are hungry.”

The Venezuelan Chamber of Food (Cavidea) said many businesses only have 15 days worth of inventory. Production has been effected as a result of a shortage of raw materials, as well as exhausted national and international supply resources.

Supermarket employees confirmed food does not arrive at the same rate as it did before, and that people’s inability to get enough is a daily struggle.

Supermarkets are registered into a system in such a way that they are not permitted to sell Venezuelans food 15 days since their purchase of the same product. As a result, long food lines have formed all over the country, with many people reselling their share to earn an “extra income.”

Bye, bye Dilma!



Dilma Rousseff suspended as Senate votes for impeachment trial

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff must step aside immediately following a vote in the upper house to move forward with impeachment proceedings stemming from allegations she broke budget laws.

Fifty-five of the 81 members of the upper house voted in favor of the motion early Thursday, with 22 voting against.

Speaking through the night, 71 of the chamber’s members made their cases ahead of the electronic vote, which took hours and ended, ultimately, in Rousseff’s temporary removal from office.

The country’s first female president will now face an impeachment trial and, for the duration of that process — up to 180 days — will be suspended from office.

Vice President Michel Temer will assume the presidency for the time that Rousseff is obliged to step aside.

The past few months have been a roller coaster for the embattled leader, who has been at the center of a fight for her impeachment, including procedural and legal appeals to annul the vote in the legislature.

The Senate and its committees will continue to work normally during this period.

What’s next?

President Rousseff will now have to step down while the impeachment trial proceeds. She retains her title as president by law, but she will not be fulfilling the duties of that office. Vice President Michel Temer will serve as interim president while the impeachment trial takes place.

In the next few hours, Sen. Vicentinho Alves will deliver the senate’s decision to Rousseff at her presidential office.

There, she will host former president and her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, universally known as Lula, along with ministers and other authorities, to sign a notification telling her she needs to step aside for the duration of the impeachment trial.

She will then address the media, and vacate the presidential office. Following that, she will return to the presidential residence, Palacio da Alvorada.

Cuba-loving professors — I dare you to read this

The College Fix


Meet Sylvia Sullivan, a longtime pro-life, pro-family conservative activist. Currently she is president of the East County California Republican Assembly, and in that capacity she gave a speech at the Murrieta-Temecula Republican Assembly last week about the dangers and evils of communism, and in particular on her family’s experience in Cuba.

I share it with you today, with her permission, so that students and professors across America who believe (like our current president) that Communist Cuba is some sort of panacea can receive a powerful slap in the face — if they have the guts to read this.

Academics today romanticize communism, suggest it’s the solution to all our ills; that capitalism is evil and must be ended. “The Communist Manifesto” is among the most frequently assigned texts at American universities, and professors aren’t doing it to “know thy enemy” and bash the tome. It’s their Bible. A 2013 survey by The College Fix of 31 public and private universities across the nation found that the subject of capitalism is often either maligned, ignored, or taught from a perspective other than objective economics.

With that in mind, I bring you Sylvia’s story. I hope it enlightens you. It is a powerful, cautionary tale of where this country could be headed if we don’t wake up …

When Freedom is Lost, by Sylvia Sullivan

Both of my parents were born and raised in Holguin, Cuba, a large town in the province of Oriente. My great uncle Segundo was twice elected mayor of the town. Yes, under the corrupt dictator Batista there were some freedoms of speech, religion, travel, property rights. Cuba had a higher per-capita income than much of Europe in 1958 before Castro. Today, journalist Michael J. Totten, who recently traveled to Cuba made this comparison: “I visited Iraq seven times during the war… Baghdad while ugly and dangerous is vastly freer and more prosperous these days than Havana.”

My dad’s uncle was the Consul at the Cuban embassy in Washington D.C. On his invitation my Dad went to work in DC. When World War II broke out, he joined the U.S. army and fought in Italy. After the war he returned to Cuba, married my mom. He was then stationed in the Panama Canal Zone.

Initially, Fidel Castro was embraced by much of the Cuban people eager to rid themselves of a corrupt dictator. Like all communists, Castro lied and hid his Marxism until he was entrenched. One method he used to consolidate power in the beginning was to disarm the people. Upon his victory and vanquishing of Batista, he called on everyone to turn in their weapons — they were all brothers and sisters now and had no need for them. Most of the people were happy to comply. Left defenseless, the murderous reign of terror began as thousands were lined up before the firing squads.

Next, the destruction of family was a goal for complete control. My Aunt Lilia, my dad’s youngest sister, became a revolutionary. She led the communists when they came to her parent’s home to divide it up. They were told the home was too big for one family, so a couple other families moved in. Aunt Lilia served as a faithful comrade for years. When her parents escaped she stayed back. Her letters to them were full of slogans of the revolution. Years later, as an older woman, she expressed to the party a desire to visit her family in Miami. The communists told her she could go but first must get a physical at the hospital. She asked why, since she was very healthy. They insisted, so she went. While there they gave her a fatal injection. Our family learned of it from a nurse who had escaped Cuba and was present. With her usefulness over, she was discarded.

On my mother’s side, my uncle Jorge became active in the party. He sent his son, Jorgito, to fight in Angola. He later told me when he had escaped that his mission in Angola, he was told, was to fight for freedom. What he found was that he was to kill women and children. When he refused his father had him sentenced to hard labor. He was released during the time of the Marielitos boatlift. His anguish didn’t end, as whenever he wrote letters to his mother, the communists made sure she never got them. So he continued to receive her letters begging to hear from him and asking why he had forgotten her.

Continue reading Cuba-loving professors — I dare you to read this

First American cruise to Cuba in decades ends with lots of vomit and diarrhea


New York Daily News

The first American cruise ship to Cuba in more than 50 years returned to Miami Sunday morning — with a whole lotta vomit and diarrhea on board.

The Fathom Adonia docked right before 6:30 a.m., ending its historic week-long voyage that brought Americans to Cuba for the first time since the countries re-established diplomatic relations. And upon its return, it was a historic horror to behold, with the vessel now needing a “thorough scrubbing,” as the Miami Herald put it.

The cruise company, Carnival, confirmed that 14 of the ship’s 700 passengers were sickened during the much-touted trip. Travelers were warned to use healthy doses of hand sanitizer, and the ship’s crew spent the last days of the trip cleaning dining rooms and tables, according to reports.

Ship captain David Box said the passengers suffered from stomach ailments “possibly suggestive of Norovirus,” according to the Herald, though Carnival has not confirmed a cause.

Still, the ship’s medical director also blamed Norovirus, an easily transmittable infection, in a letter sent to passengers on the trip’s final day.

“We suspect that the virus may have been inadvertently introduced on board by embarking travelers,” the letter said.

“Norovirus, as you are now aware, is extremely contagious and easily transmitted from person to person, especially if meticulous attention is not paid to personal hygiene.”

The company said all 14 sick passengers were treated on the ship and recovered.

“It was a non-issue for nearly everyone on board,” Carnival spokesman Roger Frizzel insisted to the Sun-Sentinel on Sunday.

The Fathom Adonia — after its cleaning — is scheduled to make trips to Cuba every other Sunday.

21 cases of gastro-intestinal illnesses reported aboard Fathom Adonia


The Miami Herald

After seven passengers reported feeling ill Friday, the ship’s crew put heightened hygiene procedures into effect

14 more passengers reported illnesses Saturday as the cruise ship made its way back to its home port in Miami

Ship’s captain told passengers there had been an increase in gastro-intestinal illnesses, “possibly suggestive of Norovirus”

As Carnival’s Fathom Adonia cruised to its home port in Miami on Saturday afternoon after making the first cruise from the United States directly to Cuba in more than half a century, an outbreak of suspected Norovirus was reported.

On Friday, after seven passengers reported gastro-intestinal upsets, the ship’s crew put heightened hygiene procedures into effect such as spritzing guests’ hands with sanitizer when they entered and left dining rooms and immediately wiping down tables.

Guests were advised to thoroughly wash their hands often and avoid shaking hands.

David Box, the ship’s captain, announced to passengers Saturday morning that there had been an increase in gastro-intestinal illnesses, “possibly suggestive of Norovirus.”

Roger Frizzell, a Carnival spokesman, said there were 14 more cases reported Saturday. He said Norovirus, which causes vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea, hadn’t been confirmed.

“These things usually run their course in 24 hours,” he said. “We’ve been very proactive in communicating with guests.”

The ship will get a thorough scrubbing when it reaches Miami early Sunday, but Frizzell said the outbreak is not expected to delay the Adonia’s trip to the Dominican Republic, which is scheduled to depart late Sunday afternoon.

Although they were aware of the outbreak, most guests seemed to be enjoying their last day at sea, sunning themselves and splashing in the ship’s pool Saturday afternoon.

Oppressed, Communist Cuba The Hot New Destination For US Celebrities


The Daily Caller, by J P Carroll

Tom Brady’s supermodel wife Gisele Bundchen brought her good looks to a Chanel fashion show Tuesday in poor, communist Cuba.

The supermodel is the face of Chanel’s signature product, Chanel N. 5 Perfume.

Bundchen is the wealthiest and highest paid model in the world, making approximately $128,000 a day. The cheapest bottle of the perfume the supermodel touts costs $76, and a typical Cuban only earns $25 a month, according to BBC News. On its website, Chanel sells a limited edition version of the perfume for $2,100.

Chanel’s fashion show is the first of its kind in the communist dictatorship in over 50 years. The runway for the fashion show was the old streets of Havana, but “Havana residents could only watch from behind the security cordon lines as VIP guests arrived at the show in specially rented antique American sedans.”

t is unclear if the Cuban government provided any funding for the show. It’s also unclear if Bundchen was compensated for being in Cuba separately from her contract as a spokeswoman. Chanel did not reply to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

Other famous faces included actress Tilda Swinton and actor Vin Diesel. Diesel is working on “Fast and the Furious 8” in the country.

Cuba has lived in the darkness of Communism since 1959 when revolutionary leader Fidel Castro came to power. Castro’s brother, Raul Castro, is now the president of Cuba.

The Cuban government has long been known for the violent way it handles dissent. American United States Agency for International Development contractor Alan Gross was accused of spying and spent almost five years in a Cuban prison from 2009 to 2014.

Gross told “60 Minutes” upon his release that while he was incarcerated, “They threatened to hang me. They threatened to pull out my fingernails. They said I’d never see the light of day. I had to do three things in order to survive, three things every day. I thought about my family that survived the Holocaust. I exercised religiously every day. And I found something every day to laugh at.”

In October, 2015, Cuban Pastor Mario Félix Lleonart Barroso testified before the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs about how he has been hounded by communist thugs. The pastor told the subcommittee, “they restrict my pastoral activities in rural communities where they are also trying to slow down and stop any religious activity.”

Lleonart Barroso went on to state, “Numerous members of my church have been the targets of threats, coercion, blackmail, and warnings simply because they form part of our congregation. Some of them have had to seek political asylum in order to avoid this kind of persecution. Many of them can now be found living in various cities in the United States.” Press freedom is also under attack in the country.

The New York based non-governmental organization the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has ranked the island dictatorship as the tenth worst country in the world for journalism. According to CPJ, “The government continues to target critical journalists through harassment, surveillance, and short-term detentions.”

People who attempt to leave the island often end up dead. In June, 2014, four Cubans were found murdered. It is not known how they died, even though “six suspects have been arrested in connection with the discovery of the bodies,” according to BBC News.

When President Barack Obama visited Cuba in March, thuggish Cuban authorities went after a peaceful protest group known as The Ladies In White. Several women were violently arrested for expressing outrage at their family members being imprisoned for political dissent.

Obama normalized relations with Cuba in December, 2014, which has led to several U.S. firms looking to invest in Cuba and many celebrities wanting to go to the island nation. On Sunday, the first U.S. cruise since the late 1970s left for Cuba from Miami.

U.S. warns Cuban Americans about risks in traveling to Cuba


The Miami Herald

A U.S. travel warning triggers concerns among Cuban Americans

Cuban-American travelers are warned that their U.S. passports could be seized

The warning says even U.S.-born children of Cuban Americans are at risk

If you’re a Cuban American wanting to visit Cuba, be careful! The Cuban government could seize your U.S. passport, or even draft you or your children into the armed forces.

And that’s not a warning from opponents of the Obama administration’s ongoing thaw in relations with Havana. It comes straight from the U.S. Embassy in Havana.

A statement on the embassy’s official web page warns that the Cuban government “does not recognize the U.S. nationality of U.S. citizens who are Cuban-born or are the children of Cuban parents.”

It adds that those people “will be treated solely as Cuban citizens” and that the Cuban government also can demand that they enter the island using their Cuban passports instead of their U.S. documents.

Those visitors also “may be subject to a range of restrictions and obligations, including military service,” and may have their passports confiscated, the Embassy added. Cuba has a mandatory military service system, in which everyone is supposed to serve 14 to 24 months when they turn 16.

“There have been cases of Cuban-American dual nationals being forced by the Cuban government to surrender their U.S. passports,” added the undated statement, posted on the Embassy’s web page.

As if the risk of being stuck in Cuba were not enough, the statement also warned about “Cuba’s denial of consular services to dual American-Cuban nationals who have been arrested.”

William Cocks, a spokeperson for the Bureau of Consular Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, told el Nuevo Herald that the travel warning is not new and that the information has been posted on a State Department website page since October 2015. Embassies often use the same information, and travel warnings are issued on a regular basis, he said.

The U.S. Embassy in Havana did not immediately respond to questions about the travel warning.

Cocks also said that the information about the children of Cuban Americans being considered Cubans when they visit the island comes from “experience” and “how we understand that the government of Cuba deals with U.S. citizens of Cuban origin.”

The concerns triggered by the statement, which has been making the rounds on social media platforms in recent days, come at a time when U.S. travel to the island, especially by Cuban Americans, is growing quickly because of the Obama administration’s new policy of “engagement,” which promotes trips to the island as an essential part of improving bilateral relations.

About 390,000 U.S. citizens of Cuban background visited the island in 2015. The Cuban Ministry of Tourism reported that 116,000 Cuban Americans and 94,000 U.S. citizens visited in just the first four months of this year alone.

The Cuban government’s decision to treat some Cuban Americans as Cubans is paradoxical because the island’s constitution, in Article 32, says that “dual citizenship will not be allowed. In consequence, when a foreign citizenship is acquired, the Cuban one will be lost.” That means Cubans who have become U.S. citizens legally lost their Cuban citizenship and should be able to use their U.S. passports when they return to the island — a long-standing demand by Cuban Americans now highlighted by the controversy sparked by the Carnival cruise ship that sailed from Miami to Cuba.

Even more surprising is the Embassy’s warning that the U.S.-born children of Cuban parents may also be treated as Cuban citizens if they visit the island. Cuba currently allows them to visit using their U.S. passports and Cuban entry visas, but may risk arbitrary decisions by the Cuban government, the diplomatic mission indicated.

Grisel Ybarra, a Cuban-American lawyer who specializes in immigration cases, said the Cuban constitution is similar to some European constitutions because it awards citizenship based on parental as well as geographical factors. Foreigners also can become naturalized Cuban citizens.

Article 29 says Cuban citizens are those “born abroad of a Cuban father or mother, as long as the legal requirements are met,” as well as “those born outside the national territory, of Cuban fathers or mothers who have lost their Cuban citizenship, as long as they request it (the Cuban citizenship) in the manner required by law.”

Although most Cuban Americans do not undertake the requirements for their children to retain or obtain Cuban citizenship, Ybarra added, that does not rule out the possibility that authorities on the island could consider the children to be Cuban citizens.

Ybarra said she had a client whose wife decided to stay to live in Cuba during a family visit to the island. Although the Cuban-born couple had both become U.S. citizens, and one of their three children had been born in the United States, Cuban authorities regarded the children as Cuban citizens, meaning that both parents had to approve any trips abroad for the kids. The wife refused to approve, and there was little the lawyer could do.

The U.S. Embassy statement suggests reading its section on Children’s Issues “for information on how dual-nationality may affect welfare inquiries and custody disputes.” The section, however, is not yet available online.

On the other hand, Cuban Americans are not always considered to be Cuban citizens. When it comes to medical treatment, the embassy statement added, Cuban Americans cannot go to the free public hospitals used by Cubans living on the island. They are required to seek treatment in clinics reserved for foreigners, where they pay high prices.

The statement also warns that dual U.S. and Cuban citizens “should be especially wary of any attempt by Cuban authorities to compel them to sign ‘repatriation’ documents.

“In several instances, the Government of Cuba has seized the U.S. passport of dual nationals signing declarations of repatriation and has denied these individuals permission to return to the United States,” the embassy said.

The Cuban Embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

If You Make $30 A Month, What’s The Point Of Chanel?



There was them and there was us: “Them” being the guests of the Chanel Cruise 2017 show and “us” being the crowd of Cubans and camera-toting foreigners pressed against the yellow tape that sliced between us and the blue-uniformed Cuban police officers standing close enough to touch. A long block stretched between their backs and the runway illuminated by street lamps.

For many of those guests, the evening’s events began at 6:15 p.m., when a fleet of mint-condition almendrones — Havana’s iconic American cars from the ’50s — began ferrying guests from the Hotel Nacional, one of Cuba’s oldest luxury hotels and former playground of the mafia, to the show space on El Prado, a long and narrow park that bisects an avenue of the same name. On one side of El Prado lies the tourist hub that is Old Havana; on the other is Central Havana, which has historically been home to lower-income families.

For the three Cuban models who walked the show — Lupe, Johana, and Yessica — tonight’s events were the end of a months-long process involving auditions, training at a Cuban modeling academy, and waiting to see which models the house would ultimately choose. For Cubans who weren’t invited, like jewelry designer Mayelín Guevara, the show was nevertheless emblematic of the sort of attention Havana has long deserved.

“We have a lot of artists here too, people of great worth,” Guevara said. “It was time, no?”

Migue Leyva J., model and blogger behind this is this, put it in more definitive terms: “Chanel is going to mark a before and and an after in the history of Cuba,” he said. “Some time in the future, if everything goes the way it has been, we won’t have just Chanel — we’ll have Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessey; we’ll have Hedi Slimane presenting his collections here.”

Continue reading If You Make $30 A Month, What’s The Point Of Chanel?