Tag Archives: Castro

Death of Fidel Castro May Pressure Donald Trump on Cuba Promises

Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump speaks during the Fox Business Network Republican presidential debate at the North Charleston Coliseum, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016, in North Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Wall Street Journal

The death of Fidel Castro is putting unexpected pressure on President-elect Donald Trump to follow through on earlier promises to reverse the recent openings to Cuba made by President Barack Obama.
While Mr. Trump could undo Mr. Obama’s efforts, which were implemented using executive authority, he could face pushback from U.S. companies now deeply invested in Cuba under the current administration’s policy. Those companies include major airlines, hotel operators and technology providers, while big U.S. phone carriers have signed roaming agreements on the island.

Mr. Trump’s top aides said Sunday that he would demand the release of political prisoners held in Cuba and push the government to allow more religious and economic freedoms. Reince Priebus, Mr. Trump’s incoming White House chief of staff, said the president-elect “absolutely” would reverse Mr. Obama’s policies if he didn’t get what he wanted from Cuba.

“We’re not going to have a unilateral deal coming from Cuba back to the United States without some changes in their government,” Mr. Priebus said Sunday on Fox News. “Repression, open markets, freedom of religion, political prisoners—these things need to change in order to have open and free relationships, and that’s what president-elect Trump believes, and that’s where he’s going to head.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), a critic of Mr. Obama’s opening, said Sunday on CBS that hehopes Mr. Trump will examine Mr. Obama’s changes to U.S.-Cuba policy and consider whether they foster democracy.

Ana Rosa Quintana, an expert on Latin America at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said she hopes Mr. Trump will roll back regulations that allow U.S. companies to interact with state-run entities in Cuba.

Mr. Obama announced in December 2014 that his administration had reached a deal with Cuba to begin to normalize relations. Since then, embassies have reopened in both countries, and the U.S. has loosened trade and travel restrictions to Cuba.

Despite bipartisan support, Congress has refused to lift the economic embargo on Cuba, which administration officials have said is necessary to fully normalize relations.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.), a co-sponsor of a bipartisan bill to lift the embargo, said until Republican leaders allow a vote on the legislation its supporters are “stymied.”

That gives Mr. Trump broad authority to scale back U.S. relations with Cuba, said lawyers and former officials who specialize in sanctions policy.

Regulations that allow U.S. companies to deal with Cuban state-owned entities seem the most vulnerable, such as one that allows U.S. businesses to use state-owned distributors as middlemen for deliveries to the private sector, the former officials and lawyers said.

Peter Harrell, a former senior official at the State Department who worked on sanctions in the Obama administration, said he expected Mr. Trump would “pull back some of that dealing with the Cuban state while allowing travel and private enterprise to go forward.”

Another measure Mr. Trump could reverse is Mr. Obama’s decision earlier this year to allow so-called people-to-people travel to Cuba without a tour group, a move that essentially lifted the travel ban and that critics believe went too far. According to the State Department, 700,000 Americans visited Cuba in 2015, which officials said was an increase from previous years.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see that rescinded,” said Robert Muse, a Washington-based lawyer who advises companies on doing business in Cuba.

Republican opponents of Mr. Obama’s Cuba policy—including Mauricio Claver-Carone, who is on Mr. Trump’s transition team at the Treasury Department—have been critical of a deal Starwood Hotels signed with the Cuban government earlier this year, under which the company is running a hotel once owned by the tourism arm of the Cuban military. Mr. Harrell said Mr. Trump might rethink that authorization or allowing similar licenses in the future.

Jeff Flaherty, a spokesman for Marriott International Inc., which now owns Starwood, said it was premature to assess what effect a Trump administration would have on its business in Cuba.

“It is too early to know precisely what it could mean for businesses that have invested in Cuba and are providing opportunities for the Cuban people, but we remain interested in being part of those conversations,” he said.

Mr. Claver-Carone didn’t respond to requests for comment.

New JFK assassination theory: Cuban double agent led plot


New York Post

More than 50 years after President John F. Kennedy was gunned down in Dallas, new evidence uncovered in the secret diaries of a Cold War spy and assassin implicates another clandestine figure believed to be working as a double agent for Cuba, an explosive new book claims.

The never-before-revealed diaries of Douglas DeWitt Bazata, a decorated officer for the United States Office of Strategic Services — the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency — claim that his longtime close friend and fellow spy, René Alexander Dussaq, was a “primary organizer and plotter” of Kennedy’s assassination on Nov. 22, 1963.

The diaries reveal that Dussaq might even have fired the fatal “shot or shots” that killed the 35th president of the United States, according to author Robert K. Wilcox’s latest book, “Target: JFK, The Spy Who Killed Kennedy?,” which goes on sale Nov. 14.

“Douglas Bazata was deeply embedded in the world of secrets, especially those surrounding JFK’s death,” Wilcox writes. “He was there at the birth of the CIA as an early and major player in that murkiest of worlds … He was an insider.”

In his diaries, Bazata wrote that the two men first met in Havana, Cuba, during the early 1930s, when Bazata, a US Marine, was given his first mission as a hitman: to assassinate a Cuban revolutionary. The mission failed, but the pair’s bond was sealed forever after Dussaq saved Bazata’s life.

The bond deepened in 1944, when both men were part of WWII’s Operation Jedburgh, in which more than 250 American and Allied paratroopers jumped behind enemy lines across France, the Netherlands and Belgium to fight against German occupation. Dussaq’s larger-than-life legend began here: He was nicknamed “Captain Bazooka” for demonstrating the Army’s new anti-tank rocket launchers to the Maquis, French resistance guerrillas. He’s also credited with bluffing a German general into believing he was surrounded by American troops, leading to the capture of up to 500 Nazis.

Dussaq — who was born in Buenos Aires and educated in Geneva and Cuba — became a naturalized US citizen in 1942. The son of a Cuban diplomat, he had tried to enlist after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor but was deemed a potential security risk. However, the US Army was desperate for infantrymen at the time and ultimately accepted him. Dussaq quickly rose through the ranks, becoming a lieutenant instructor for the elite 101st Airborne Division, the “Screaming Eagles.”

Continue reading New JFK assassination theory: Cuban double agent led plot

Amid rising U.S.-Russia tension, Putin weighs reopening air base in Cuba


Fox News Latino

Amid rising tensions between Moscow and Washington, the administration of Russian president Vladimir Putin is considering setting up an air base in Cuba, according to the Washington Post.

Russian officials have been hinting at an interest in bringing back a military base presence in Cuba, but aren’t saying outright of any concrete plans or what discussions, if any, they are having with officials of the island nation that sits a mere 90 miles from U.S. shores.

Citing Russian news reports, the Post said that Russian Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai Pankov indicated that the military is “reviewing” the closing of an intelligence base in Cuba – as well as that of a naval base in Vietnam – in the early 2000s.

Cuba closed the base, according to published reports, because of financial problems associated with it, as well as U.S. pressure.

Russia is looking to expand its global presence, the Post reported, to compete, in a way, with the United States.

“As for our presence on faraway outposts, we are working on this,” Pankov said.

The Post said that Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Putin, would not elaborate about restoring a presence in Cuba and Vietnam. All he would acknowledge, the Post said, was that Russia finds itself having to look for ways to address global developments.

Russia just ratified a treaty with Syria last week that enables it to have its first permanent air base in the Middle East.

Putin has repeatedly expressed support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The Soviets established the base in Cuba following the 1962 missile crisis, which involved Moscow’s desire to put nuclear weapons in Cuba.

That base, which was located about 150 miles from U.S. shores, offered the ability to the Soviets to intercept U.S. communications.

Some international affairs experts remain skeptical about a return of a Russian base to Cuba.

“I will believe this is a real possibility when I hear it from Cuba and Vietnam. A country needs to want this,” Olga Oliker, director of the Russian and Eurasia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., told the Miami Herald.

“Russia is looking to increase its global posture from a prestige point of view, to show that it is a world power, and, like the United States, it also has global bases,” said Oliker. “The question is what would Russia offer [Cuba and Vietnam] in exchange for the countries allowing these bases. I’m not sure how interested the Cubans are given the recent restoration of relations with the United States.”

The Capture of ‘The Ghost,’ a Criminal Legend of Miami’s Cocaine Era


The Atlantic

Anibal Mustelier is tied to a famous Florida bank heist, Colombian cartel murders in the 1980s, and even Cuban government assassinations.

During the years Pablo Escobar’s Medellín Cartel flooded Miami with cocaine, authorities say Anibal Mustelier was one of the city’s more deadly hitmen. In 1989, he allegedly machine-gunned a local businessman accused of taking money from the cartel. When that failed, he is said to have bombed the man’s car.

Mustelier is now 66, and has spent the past 26 years hiding as a fugitive from the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, and authorities in several countries. It was that knack for evasion that earned him the nickname “The Ghost.” He was so successful at hiding, in fact, that when officers in a Miami suburb caught a lead on a group of bank robbers earlier this month, they didn’t even know whom they were chasing.

Mustelier was arrested over the weekend with little attention. It was only Tuesday that local media outlets published the news. Of the robbery that brought down him down, the Miami New Times reported that Mustelier and his crew had cut a hole in the roof of a nail salon adjacent to a jewelry store. They planned to tunnel through another wall once inside, but they had:

… accidentally drilled through a metal pipe with wires inside, shorting out the lights in the entire shopping center.

Around 8:50 a.m. the next morning, a witness says he saw a “suspicious male” standing outside the store acting as a lookout and heard unknown voices emanating from inside the jewelry store. Possibly realizing they’d been seen, the alleged robbers bolted, carrying large black duffel bags with them and shielding their eyes with their hands.
After the robbery, a confidential informant helped officers record conversations with some of the suspected robbers, one of whom, to their surprise, turned out to be Mustelier. On Sunday, police raided the aging criminal’s home. Inside, they found jewelry, a bulletproof vest, gloves, a mask, and weapons.

Along with charges connected to the robbery, Mustelier has warrants out from an old bank robbery, and an attempted murder. Mustelier is believed to have masterminded one of South Florida’s largest robberies, that of the SunTrust Bank in Miami in 1996. The heist allegedly earned Mustelier and his associates $5 million, and a starring role in an episode of America’s Most Wanted.

Local police said Mustelier was at one time linked to former Cuban President Fidel Castro, working as an assassin for the government. He was believed to have hidden in Cuba for a long time, and possibly in Venezuela. In 2001 he was seen visiting family in the Miami area, but quickly vanished. Lately, Mustelier lived in a small, single-story home with his girlfriend.

Pope Francis appeases the Castros in repressive Cuba


The Washington Post Editorial

In his visit to the United States beginning Tuesday, Pope Francis will meet not just President Obama and Congress but also those marginalized by our society: homeless people, immigrants, refugees and even the inmates of a jail. He’s expected to raise topics that many Americans will find challenging, such as his harsh critique of capitalism. His supporters say it’s all part of the role the pope has embraced as an advocate for the powerless, one that has earned him admiration from both Catholics and some outside the church.
How, then, to explain Pope Francis’s behavior in Cuba? The pope is spending four days in a country whose Communist dictatorship has remained unrelenting in its repression of free speech, political dissent and other human rights despite a warming of relations with the Vatican and the United States. Yet by the end of his third day, the pope had said or done absolutely nothing that might discomfit his official hosts.
Pope Francis met with 89-year-old Fidel Castro, who holds no office in Cuba, but not with any members of the dissident community — in or outside of prison. According to the Web site 14ymedio.com, two opposition activists were invited to greet the pope at Havana’s cathedral Sunday but were arrested on the way. Dozens of other dissidents were detained when they attempted to attend an open air Mass. They needn’t have bothered: The pope said nothing in his homily about their cause, or even political freedom more generally. Those hunting for a message had to settle for a cryptic declaration that “service is never ideological.”
Sadly, this appeasement of power is consistent with the Vatican’s approach to Cuba ever since Raúl Castro replaced his brother in 2006. Led by Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega, the church committed to a strategy of working with the regime in the hope of encouraging its gradual moderation. The results have been slight. Cardinal Ortega obtained Raúl Castro’s promise to release all political prisoners, but arrests have continued and dissident groups say the number of jailed is now above 70. One leading Christian dissident, Oswaldo Payá, was killed in a suspicious 2012 auto crash.
The Vatican’s greatest success has been the adoption of its strategy by the Obama administration, which has also restored relations with the Castros while excluding the political opposition. Here, too, there have been disappointing results. U.S. exports to Cuba, controlled by Havana, have declined this year, while arrests of opponents have increased, along with refu­gees. Many Cubans are trying to reach the United States ahead of what they fear will be a move by the Obama administration to placate the regime with a tightening of asylum rules.

Pope Francis may believe that merely by touring the country he will inspire Cubans to become more active and press the regime for change. But two previous papal visits, in 1998 and 2012, did not have that effect. By now it is clear that the Castros won’t be moved by quiet diplomacy or indirect hints. A direct campaign of words and acts, like that Pope Francis is planning for the United States, would surely have an impact. But then, it takes more fortitude to challenge a dictatorship than a democracy.

NBC reporter from Havana: “We don’t know why they were protesting”


Anne Thompson, reporting on Monday morning for MSNBC from Havana during the Morning Joe program, reported that several people got arrested during the Papal Mass but that she didn’t know the reason why they were protesting!
After she finished her report, Joe Scarborough said what everyone, except this NBC reporter knew: “They were yelling freedom, they are opposed to the government and protesting the lack of freedom in Cuba.”
It’s incredible how the MSM refuses to recognize that there is a dictatorship in Cuba and still refers to the Castro brothers as “president” and “former president” of Cuba, when they have never been elected to anything.
For the MSM the only “dictators” are Pinochet, Batista, Franco, Somoza, but not the Castros.

America returns to Cuba. The Castro brothers feed Obama’s insatiable appetite for insult and affront


The Washington Times Editorial Board

Gulags and satrapies are required in the nether world where Marxist fantasy survives. How else to keep the peasants in line? Secretary of State John Kerry, looking for love in all the wrong places, took a handful of congressmen to Havana the other day to preside over the raising of the American flag at the reopening of the American embassy, closed in 1961 when Fidel Castro imposed the Marxist yoke upon the neck of the Cuban people. The three Marines who lowered the flag 53 years ago, old men now, were called back to run up Old Glory once more. Mr. Kerry celebrated the occasion as another achievement of Barack Obama’s presidency.
Fidel is on the margins now, an old man drooling in his cups, devoting himself to conjuring insults to America. Little brother Raul runs the gulag, one of the most repressive anywhere. Fidel is such a glutton for Marxist theory that during the Cuban missile crisis he urged the Soviets to indulge a nuclear exchange with the United States, even if it meant sacrificing Cuba in the name of a Communist future. Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet premier and no stranger to the world of repression, was appalled by the cavalier recklessness of his Cuban clients.
Many American liberals, confident that repressive theory would never apply to them, have often admired dictators trying to fundamentally transform the world. An earlier generation of American academics admired Lenin and Trotsky, and swooned over Stalin even as he unleashed genocide in Ukraine, torturing anyone who offended his paranoia into confessing imaginary crimes “against the people.” And then he shot them. The children of these liberals, who now want to be called “progressives” and incapable of learning from experience, found much to admire in Mao’s China, in Ho Chi Minh’s Vietnam, and in Cuba.
They assured everyone in their books and magazine articles that the Castro brothers were building heaven on earth just 90 miles from Florida, and were puzzled by why so many Cubans were building boats, rafts and anything that would float, all to flee paradise. These escapees from the gulag were scorned as whiners, malcontents and ingrates whose testimony should be ignored.      Continue reading America returns to Cuba. The Castro brothers feed Obama’s insatiable appetite for insult and affront

Obama is taking the wrong side in Cuba


A memorable line from Ronald Reagan’s famous 1964 speech, “A Time for Choosing,” pertained to some left-leaning politicians’ accommodationist attitude toward communism. The line stood out last week, as the United States resumed diplomatic relations with Cuba’s oppressive Communist regime.
“We cannot buy our security, our freedom from the threat of the bomb,” he said, “by committing an immorality so great as saying to a billion human beings now enslaved behind the Iron Curtain, ‘Give up your dreams of freedom because to save our own skins, we’re willing to make a deal with your slave masters.'”
Today, communism is no longer the formidable and violent global force it once was — there’s no question now of “saving our own skins” from Soviet bombs. In a sense, that makes Obama’s overly generous deal with the oppressive, terrorist-sponsoring Cuban regime seem less craven. But the lack of a pressing threat also calls into question why any president would show such unnecessary magnanimity, inking a deal with Cuba on such unfavorable terms.
It’s not that Obama is wrong to make any deal whatsoever. At some point, it has to happen. The opening up of trade will play a role — albeit not a sufficient one on its own — in freeing Cubans from one of the world’s worst governments.
But Obama made a deal that essentially asks nothing of the Cuban regime, while giving it an immense gift that boosts its prestige. Raul Castro can continue his policy of arbitrary arrests of political dissidents, restriction of Internet access so that his subjects lack access to the truth, detention of political prisoners and oppression of Christian churches. In all of these categories, the Cuban government has grown worse in recent years, stepping up its oppression during and after the period when Obama was negotiating with them to renew relations.
Cuba released 53 political prisoners as part of its deal with Obama — a mere drop in the bucket. In its 2015 report on Cuba, Human Rights Watch notes that the regime in 2014 — even as it was negotiating with Obama — more than doubled its number of “short-term arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders, independent journalists, and other critics.” Those arrested (more than 7,000 last year) are routinely beaten and held incommunicado for hours or days.
The HRW report adds that “other repressive tactics employed by the government include beatings, public acts of shaming, and the termination of employment.”
Just imagine living in a country where simple criticism of the regime can result in your sudden disappearance and torture — and if you’re lucky, you might just be bullied (by other grown-ups, no less) and fired from your job. Policemen might also harass and detain you when you try to attend church.
Imagine all that, and then imagine that the United States – the world’s beacon of freedom and the refuge for many Cuban refugees – suddenly cozies up to your tormentors, even as they are stepping up the oppression.
This is what Obama has done by failing to make any serious demands on the regime — for example, to release all political prisoners, to stop the arbitrary arrests, or to open up Cuba to hold free elections with fair international monitors. Obama also failed to demand concessions with respect to Cuba’s continued harboring of international terrorists — people who committed crimes both within the United States and abroad.
Cuban dissidents were not invited to take part in the Friday ceremony reopening the U.S. embassy in Havana. According to news reports, the Cuban regime threatened to boycott the ceremony if they were. The exclusion sends a clear message: America snubs Cubans who bravely seek freedom and a better life in order to mollify the murderers and torturers who have ruined their country. If this is what U.S.-Cuban relations are going to look like going forward, why bother to renew them?

Washington Examiner

Obama’s capitulation to the Castros is bearing fruit: 674 dissidents arrested in July


Cuba locked up nearly 700 dissidents in July, an opposition group has reported. According to the Cuban Commission of Human Rights and National Reconciliation, that’s the highest total since June 2014.
n its latest monthly study, the opposition Cuban Commission of Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) reported that the government arrested 674 people on “political motives” in July. According to the group, at least 21 of those arrested were treated violently while in custody.
The majority of the detentions were brief, according to the CCHDRN, “in a persistent context of the violation of all civil and political rights and other fundamental rights.”
Most involved Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White), who hold regular marches in Havana following Sunday Mass.
Called “counterrevolutionary” and “US mercenaries” by the government, the CCHDRN also reported an incident in which Cuban authorities tried to have dissidents expelled from a democracy conference in El Salvador but failed.
Elizardo Sanchez, the author of the CCHDRN study, said at least 71 of the dissidents arrested in July were victims of “acts of repudiation” carried out by “secret police and parapolice elements.”
The report comes as international attention is focused on Cuba, with the country working to restore diplomatic relations with the US after the reopening of their respective embassies after five decades and the possible easing of a travel ban imposed by the United States.
Cuba recently received several high-level foreign visitors, including German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.