Tag Archives: Cuban military

Russian Military Considers Return to Cuba, Vietnam


ABC News

The Russian military is considering the possibility of regaining its Soviet-era bases on Cuba and in Vietnam, the Defense Ministry said Friday, a statement that comes amid growing U.S.-Russia tensions over Syria.

Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai Pankov told lawmakers Friday that the ministry is considering the possibility of establishing footholds far away from Russia’s borders.

Responding to a lawmaker’s question if the military could return to Cuba and Vietnam, Pankov said the military is “reviewing” a decision to withdraw from them, but didn’t offer any specifics. “As for our presence on faraway outposts, we are doing this work,” he said.

In 2001, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the military to pull back from Cuba and Vietnam as he sought to bolster ties with the United States. The U.S.-Russian relations now have plunged to the lowest point since the Cold War times amid strain over Syria and Ukraine.

Moscow has lamented that Washington never appreciated Putin’s goodwill gesture.

Asked Friday about the possibility of the Russian military’s return to Cuba and Vietnam, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov refrained from specific comment, but added that the global situation requires various players to mull possible responses.

“Naturally, all countries assess those changes from the point of view of their national interests and take steps they consider necessary,” he told reporters.

When Putin ordered the military withdrawal from Cuba and Vietnam, Russia was still reeling from its post-Soviet economic meltdown. Putin cited the need to cut costs when he explained reasons behind his move to the military.

Windfall oil revenues in recent years have filled the government’s coffers with petrodollars, allowing the Kremlin to fund an ambitions weapons modernization program and turn the military into a more mobile modern force.

Amid the deterioration of ties with the West, the military began pondering plans to re-establish its global presence. A small naval supply facility in the Syrian port of Tartus is now the navy’s only outpost outside the former Soviet Union.

Oleg Nilov of A Just Russia, one of the factions in the Kremlin-controlled lower house, pointed at the U.S. and its NATO allies’ deployment near Russian borders as he argued that Russia needs to regain its Soviet-era bases

“It’s time to reach agreements to return to faraway outposts if they don’t understand the language of diplomacy,” he said during debates.

Building a Business on Misery


By Fernando J. Milanes, MD

“The most baffling about the human psyche is that even after seeing the misery and suffering all around.
He is convinced that these would befall only to others and not on to him.”
― Gian Kumar

In a most misleading front page article [on Sunday’s Miami Herald], the Cuba promoter, masquerading as a reporter, Mimi Whitefield speaks about how “Cuban private entrepreneurs” are building a business on “classic cars”.

She attributes the demand for these old automobiles on “nostalgia”. Of course, what she calls nostalgia is a reflection of one of the worse sentiments humans have, lack of compassion. Continue reading Building a Business on Misery

When Helping ‘the Cuban People’ Means Bankrolling the Castros

The Wall Street Journal by Mauricio Claver-Carone ,  director of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC


U.S. legislation to ease sanctions will instead primarily benefit Havana’s state-owned monopolies.
Three bills full of lofty but disingenuous rhetoric about “supporting the Cuban people” were recently filed in the U.S. Senate to ease sanctions. To have an honest debate about sanctions on Cuba, it’s important to understand how that totalitarian regime conducts business. The bills primarily benefit three monopolies in Cuba, all owned and operated by the Cuban government: Etecsa, Alimport and Gaesa.
Let’s look at each piece of legislation:
• The Cuba Digital and Telecommunications Advancement Act. This bill’s purpose is to provide millions of U.S. dollars to develop telecom infrastructure for the Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba, S.A. (Etecsa), owned by the Cuban government. The company works with the secret police of Cuba’s President Raúl Castro, tapping phone lines, monitoring conversations, censoring the Internet and persecuting Cubans discovered with homemade satellite dishes.
Etecsa is very good at what it does, according to a recent report by Freedom House, a nongovernmental organization based in Washington, D.C., that ranks Cuba, China, Iran and Syria as the world’s most Internet-repressive governments.
The cosponsors of the Cuba Digital and Telecommunications Advancement Act, including New Mexico Democratic Sen. Tom Udall and Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, argue that foreign investment in Etecsa will lead to greater Internet connectivity for the Cuban people. Apparently they are unaware that Telecom Italia owned a 27% stake in Etecsa from 1995-2011. Or that America’s Sprint Corporation provided Etecsa with its first Internet connection in 1996, and that France’s Alcatel-Lucent laid new fiber optic cable for Etecsa in 2012.
None of those “foreign investments” improved connectivity for the Cuban people. What the investments did was improve the Cuban government’s ability to control its people.
Etecsa already provides Internet service in Cuba. The problem is that the Cuban government only allows foreigners and its own apparatchiks to access the Internet. So this Senate bill purports to solve a problem that doesn’t exist and offers nothing to change the real problem.
•The Agricultural Export Expansion Act. This bill seeks to provide lines of credit to the Empresa Cubana Importadora de Alimentos, S.A. (Alimport), the Castro brothers’ import monopoly. This government organ is already well supplied by U.S. taxpayers. Since Congress passed the 2000 Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act, nearly $4 billion in U.S. agricultural products have been sold to Cuba. The only buyer was Alimport. As the U.S. Agriculture Department reports: “The key difference in exporting to Cuba, compared with other countries in the region, is that all U.S. agricultural exports must be channeled through one Cuban government agency, ALIMPORT.”
One result is that little of the food and medicine that Cuba imports from the U.S. ever makes it to stores where Cubans shop. It isn’t available on ration cards either. Instead, agricultural imports from the U.S. end up on the tables of Cuban government-owned tourist resorts and in government-owned stores that accept only “hard currencies,” such as dollars or euros.
Experience demonstrates that exporting to Cuba is not about assisting small and midsize farmers on the island, as the bill’s cosponsors, including Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, a North Dakota Democrat, and John Boozman, an Arizona Republican, would like their legislative colleagues to believe. It’s about financing the monopoly run by the Castros.
• The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act is a billion-dollar windfall for Grupo de Administracion Empresarial, S.A.—the most notorious and vile of the Cuban-government monopolies.
Gaesa is the holding company of Cuba’s Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, Cuba’s military. It is the dominant driving force of the island’s economy. Established in the 1990s by Raúl Castro, who succeeded his brother Fidel as Cuba’s leader, it controls tourism companies, ranging from the very profitable Gaviota S.A., which runs Cuba’s hotels, restaurants, car rentals and nightclubs, to TRD Caribe S.A., which runs the island’s retail stores. Gaesa controls virtually all economic transactions in Cuba and is run by Raúl Castro’s son-in-law, Gen. Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Callejas.
Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, one of the cosponsors of the Gaesa bill along with Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy and others, says that it allows Americans to travel to Cuba. But that is misleading. Any American today can travel to Cuba under one of the 12 broad categories of purposeful travel. What Mr. Flake proposes to lift are restrictions imposed in 2000—Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act—on tourism-related transactions with Gaesa. Those restrictions are there because tourism is to Cuba’s military and security forces what oil is to Iran’s military.
Spending by Canadian, European and Latin American tourists enjoying Cuba’s all-inclusive beach resorts sustains the government’s military and security services. It finances the government’s operations to share intelligence with terrorist groups and rogue regimes and promote violence to subvert democracy in Venezuela—and finances a government that has been caught twice in the past two years smuggling heavy weaponry to the world’s worst violators, including North Korea. Nonetheless, Mr. Flake’s bill effectually earmarks millions in U.S. tourist dollars for Gaesa.
U.S. support for Cuba’s government monopolies can only strength that brutal regime’s totalitarian grip. The Cuban people know it, and U.S. senators ought to be able to figure it out.

House Committee Passes Fourth Bill Tightening Cuba Sanctions

Via Capitol Hill Cubans:

This morning, the House Appropriations Committee passed its FY 2016 Financial Services Appropriations bill.
This bill funds the operations of the Treasury Department, including the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”).
The bill contains three Cuban-related prohibitions, which opponents were (once again) unsuccessful in trying to remove:
“A prohibition on travel to Cuba for educational exchanges not involving academic study pursuant to a degree program, a prohibition on the importation of property confiscated by the Cuban Government, and a prohibition on financial transactions with the Cuban military or intelligence service.”
In other words, it effectively terminates “people-to-people” trips, which have been a guise for illegal tourism transactions; prohibits all transactions with entities owned or operated by the Cuban military and security services; and prohibits the importation of stolen property by travelers, namely confiscated rum and cigar products.
This is the fourth bill to pass the House Appropriations Committee, which altogether contain nearly a dozen provisions challenging President Obama’s Cuba policy.
Two of these bill have already passed the whole U.S. House of Representatives, which tighten sanctions towards Cuba:
The Commerce, Justice Appropriations bill contains a provision (supported by a vote of 273-153) ensuring that none of the exports authorized under the Obama Administration’s new “Support for the Cuban People” category (under Commerce Department regulations) can be funneled through entities owned or controlled by the Castro regime’s military or security services.
And the Transportation Appropriations bill contains language (supported by a vote of 247-176) prohibiting the use of confiscated property for new travel — by airplane or vessels — to Cuba.
Still awaiting floor consideration, the State Department, Foreign Operations bill contains key provisions that prohibit funds for an embassy or other diplomatic facility in Cuba, beyond what was in existence prior to the President’s December announcement proposing changes to the U.S.-Cuba policy. It also restricts funds to facilitate the opening of a Cuban embassy in the U.S., increases democracy assistance and international broadcasting to Cuba, and provides direction to the Secretary of State on denying the issuance of visas to members of the Cuban military and the Communist party.