THURSDAY, MARCH 6 5 p.m. Stephen Kimber, author of ‘What Lies Across the Water: the Real Story of the Cuban Five,’ reads at Harbourfront Library. Cuban Ambassador to Canada Julio Garmendia Pena will accompany Kimber. Open to the public. - See more at: Nanaimo Daily News (British Columbia)
(JP Updates) In a floor speech on the situation in Cuba, that the national media had described as his comeback moment for the 2016 presidential election, Florida Marco Rubio noted that the Jewish American contractor, Alan Gross, is being held up a a “hostage” in Cuba for handing out satellite radios to Jewish Cubans.
The blistering speech came in response to a speech given by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), returning from a visit in Cuba, where he praised the Cuban government for their hospitality and for what he called their advanced health care system and socialized education system.
“We heard about Mr. Gross, who is not in jail. He’s not a prisoner. He is a hostage. He is a hostage,” said Sen. Rubio. “And in the speech I heard a moment ago, I heard allusions to the idea that maybe we should — he didn’t say it, but I know the language, I know the code in this — that maybe there should be a spy swap. Here’s the problem: Mr. Gross was not a spy. You know what his crime was, if that’s what you can call it? He went to Cuba to hand out satellite radios to the Jewish community.”
“But, we’re glad to hear that the Cubans are so nice to him that they let him walk 10,000 steps a day and do pull-ups and they let him build a necklace out of bottle cap tops. Very nice of them to allow him to do those things. How generous,” he added.
Watch Rubio’s floor speech below:
Rubio Delivers Floor Speech On Crisis In Venezuela
(AFP) Havana — One of the so-called “Cuban Five” intelligence agents convicted by the US of spying has been denied a British visa to attend a London symposium, Cuban media said Wednesday.
Rene Gonzalez, who served 13 years in US prison before his release in 2011, had been invited to a two-day conference put on by “Voice for the Five,” an organization that fights “for freedom and justice for the Cuban Five.”
The men were convicted in a 2001 US spy case that made them heroes in Havana. Three of the men are still in prison in the United States.
Cuba has acknowledged that they were its agents but says they were spying on exiles to prevent terror attacks in Cuba.
The Cuban state-run newspaper Juventud Rebelde said Gonzales (sic), 55, received notice that he had been denied a visa a few hours before he was to depart from Havana for the March 7-8 event.
It added that British law prohibits entry of a person sentenced to more than four years in prison and that the British government “doesn’t consider Gonzalez‘s attendance at the international commission sufficient to justify his visa.”
“Gonzalez is the principal witness for the event,” Juventud Rebelde said.
The Cuban Five were arrested in 1998 and tried as part of a ring linked to the shoot-down of two private aircraft belonging to an exile group called Brothers to the Rescue. Four people were killed in the incident.
Gonzalez, who was to serve three years of parole in the United States after being released in October 2011, returned to Cuba in April 2013 to visit his family.
From there, he renounced his US citizenship, effectively ending his sentence in a move accepted by Washington.
A second member of the Five, Fernando Gonzalez, was released last Thursday from a maximum-security prison in the US state of Arizona and then deported to Cuba, after spending more than 15 years behind bars.
The other three agents are serving life sentences in the United States.
Cuban Anti-terrorists Nominated For Human Rights Award
WASHINGTON (USA), March 5 (BERNAMA- NNN-Prensa Latina) — The International Committee for the Freedom of the Five has nominated the Cuban anti-terrorists for the Human Rights People’s Choice Award 2014, which acknowledges the work of people or institutions in defense of human rights.
The organization said that it had nominated Gerardo Hernandez, Fernando Gonzalez, Ramon Labanino, Antonio Guerrero and Rene Gonzalez, known internationally as the Cuban Five, because they fought to protect the Cuban people as well as citizens from the U.S. and other countries from terrorist violence.
They risked their lives to protect the lives of thousands. Instead of honoring them, the United States has sentenced them to long and unjust penalties.
In spite of that, the Cuban Five stand tall and face their sentences with dignity. This nomination is yet another way to make U.S citizens aware of the case, the organization added.
The Cuban Five were arrested while they were monitoring anti-Cuban groups based in Miami, whose actions have left more than 400 victims over the last 53 years in Cuba.
Gerardo, Antonio and Ramon remain in jail despite the international campaign for their immediate release.
Rene Gonzalez was released on Oct 7, 2011 after 13 years in prison, a period of supervised release and the renunciation of his US citizenship, while Fernando returned to the island on Feb 28, 2014 after serving the final day of his sentence in an Arizona penitentiary in the United States.
The Committee has called on the international community to submit supporting votes for the nomination until March 21.
The Human Rights People’s Choice Award Contest is part of the annual award ceremony organized by the California-based social activists group Global Exchange since 2002.
– BERNAMA-NNN-PRENSA LATINA
Editor’s Note: The Cuban Five and the remainder of the Wasp Network spied against the US government, its military forces, and Cuban exile groups. The spy ring also provided invaluable support to Cuba’s murder of four Americans during the February 1996 shoot-down of two Search And Rescue (SAR) aircraft flown by “Brothers to the Rescue.”
By Keith Johnson, The Tico Times
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Top U.S. lawmakers from both parties are urging the Obama administration to take a tougher line on Venezuela, which is violently cracking down on popular protests against the government of Nicolás Maduro. For some on Capitol Hill, though, the real target is Cuba.
These leading Republicans and Democrats are pushing back at a country that has been a constant thorn in the side of U.S. interests in Latin America in recent years.
Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R., Fla., and Eliot Engel, D., N.Y., have both called for the Organization of American States, which meets this week, to take a tougher line on the Maduro government’s treatment of peaceful protesters. Sen. Marco Rubio, R., Fla., has floated the idea of U.S. sanctions against Venezuelan officials involved in the crackdown, and even against the Venezuelan government itself.
But Venezuela hawks such as Rubio are making a second argument: tougher action against Venezuela represents a chance to undermine one of the key lifelines of the communist regime in Cuba, whose economy relies on heavily subsidized oil and other gifts from Caracas.
“The Cubans get free and cheap oil from the Venezuelans. So their interest is keeping this regime in place because they’re their benefactors,” Rubio told CNN this week. “And Cuba is clearly involved in assisting the Venezuelan government with both personnel and training and equipment to carry out these repressive activities,” he added.
Feature continues here: The Link Between Venezuela and Cuba
By Mary Anastasia O’Grady, Wall Street Journal
On Wednesday, as Venezuelan strongman Nicólas Maduro was promising more repression to crush relentless student protests, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told reporters that Moscow plans to put military bases in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba. A few days later a Russian spy ship arrived in Havana harbor unannounced.
The usual Cold War suspects are back. More accurately, they never left. Former KGB officer Vladimir Putin is warning President Obama that Russia can make trouble in the Americas if the U.S. insists on solidarity with the Ukrainian people. Meanwhile, Latin America’s aging Marxists are lining up behind Mr. Maduro, successor to the late Hugo Chávez.
Russia and Cuba are finally reaping the benefits of the revolution they have long sown in Latin America. Any chance of defeating them requires setting the record straight about how Venezuela got so poor.
Venezuelan politicians sold left-wing populism like snake oil for decades before Chávez came to power in 1999. They demagogued entrepreneurs and indoctrinated the masses with anti-businesses propaganda. From the earliest days of the Cuban revolution, Castro was a hero in Venezuelan universities where Cuban-Soviet propaganda flourished. By the 1960s school children were being weaned on utopian collectivism. The brainwashing intensified when Chávez opened Venezuela to Cuban proselytizers.
Through it all, the politically connected got rich, including the chavistas. But today a large part of the population believes that business is underhanded and greedy. This is why escaping the noose of totalitarianism is going to be difficult. The culture of liberty has been nearly annihilated, and even if Mr. Maduro is overthrown, that culture must be rebuilt from the ground up.
To be sure, social media makes it harder to put a smiley face on tyranny than in the 1980s. Back then a doctrine like sandinismo could be marketed by Cuba and Russia to naïve Americans as the salvation of the Nicaraguan poor even while the Sandinista army burned Miskito Indian villages and arrested banana-selling peasants as speculators in the highlands.
Today word gets around. A Feb. 18 cellphone image from the Venezuelan city of Valencia—of a young man carrying the limp body of 22-year-old Genesis Carmona after she was shot in the head by Maduro enforcers—has gone viral as an emblem of the repression.
By Alice Speri, VICE News
Eduardo Barreto isn’t sure if the armed guards that have been shooting at him were even Venezuelan.
Since joining his country’s protests earlier this month, the 20-year-old economics student from Valencia has been tear-gassed and chased by officers on motorcycles. He has watched his friends get shot in the back as they fled, and he was marching on the same street where student and beauty queen Génesis Carmona was killed last week.
He has little love for the National Guard, which the government has unleashed on protesters, but if he’s going to get shot, he’d like it at least to be done by a countryman.
“We know there are Cuban officers within our National Guard,” said Barreto, repeating widespread but unconfirmed reports that president Nicolás Maduro’s government might have tapped its island neighbor for help in protecting its Bolivarian revolution. “Can you imagine Russian officers joining the US National Guard to shoot at American citizens there? That’s unacceptable.”
Barreto says he has no doubt that at least some of the officers he has come across are Cuban. Early on in the protests—before guards started shooting at him—he brought them water bottles to cool off while they watched over demonstrators.
“They were in the streets standing in the sun all day, and I wanted to be friendly,” Barreto said. “One of them, when he thanked me, had a Cuban accent. I know a Cuban accent; I have uncles there.”
Read complete article here: Are Cuban Special Forces Shooting at Venezuelan Protesters?
MODERATOR: Jaime Suchlicki, is the Emilio Bacardi Moreau Distinguished Professor of History and Director of The Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami. He also directs the Cuba Transition Project, and is the Editor of the Cuban Affairs Journal. His best-known books are Cuba: From Columbus to Castro, now in its fifth edition, and editor with lrving L. Horowitz of Cuban Communism, now in its eleventh edition. He is also the author of Mexico: From Montezuma to the Rise of the PAN and Breve Historia de Cuba
PANELISTS: Dr. Brian Latell, is a Senior Research Associate at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies (ICCAS). He was a Professor of International Relations at Georgetown University. Dr. Latell served as National Intelligence Officer for Latin America from 1990-1994. His work as a Latin America specialist for the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Intelligence Council began in the 1960s. He was awarded the CIA’s Distinguished Intelligence Medal. Latell has published extensively on Cuba, Mexico, other Latin America subjects, and on foreign intelligence issues. Dr. Latell is the author of After Fidel: Raul Castro and the Future of Cuba’s Revolution and of Castro’s Secrets: Cuban Intelligence, the CIA and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy.
Pedro Roig, Esq. is a Senior Research Associate at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami, historian, attorney and author of the book “The Death of a Dream: A History of Cuba.” He is a veteran of the Brigade 2506.
Dr. Jose Azel is a Senior Research Associate at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies (ICCAS), University of Miami. He was one of the founders of Pediatrix Medical Group, the nation’s leading provider of pediatric specialty services. Dr. Azel was an Adjunct Professor of International Business at the School of Business Administration, Department of Management, University of Miami. He is the author of Mañana in Cuba.
Dr. Susan Kaufman Purcell, Director of the Center for Hemispheric Policy at the University of Miami. Prior to assuming her current position, Dr. Purcell was Vice President of the Council of the Americas and the Americas Society in New York, and from 1980-1981 she was a member of the U.S. Department of State’s Policy Planning Staff. She has written extensively on Latin America and on U.S. Policy.
(AFP) A Russian warship was docked in Havana Wednesday, without explanation from Communist Cuba or its state media.
The Viktor Leonov CCB-175 boat, measuring 91.5 meters (300 feet) long and 14.5 meters wide, was docked at the port of Havana’s cruise ship area, near the Russian Orthodox Cathedral.
The Vishnya, or Meridian-class intelligence ship, which has a crew of around 200, went into service in the Black Sea in 1988 before it was transferred seven years later to the northern fleet, Russian media sources said.
Neither Cuban authorities nor state media have mentioned the ship’s visit, unlike on previous tours by Russian warships.
The former Soviet Union was Cuba’s sponsor state through three decades of Cold War. After a period of some distancing under former Russian president Boris Yeltsin, the countries renewed their political, economic and military cooperation.
The ship is reportedly armed with 30mm guns and anti-aircraft missiles.
Its visit comes as isolated Havana’s current economic and political patron, Venezuela, is facing unprecedented violent protests against President Nicolas Maduro’s government.
Cuban President Raul Castro’s Communist government is the Americas’ only one-party regime.