Recibe Vicecanciller ruso a Directora General de EE.UU. del MINREX Reply

Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer Josefina Vidal, thrown out of the US in May 2003 for espionage.

Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer Josefina Vidal, thrown out of the US in May 2003 for espionage.

RUSIA, 16 de octubre. El vicecanciller ruso Serguei Riabkov recibió en la sede del Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores de este país, a Josefina Vidal, Directora General de la Dirección de Estados Unidos del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Cuba.

El encuentro se desarrolló en un clima de cordialidad y en el marco de las excelentes relaciones de cooperación entre ambos países. En el mismo se intercambió sobre el desarrollo de los principales aspectos de las relaciones bilaterales entre Rusia y Cuba y sobre los temas de la actualidad internacional.

Estaba presente, además, el Embajador de Cuba ante la Federación de Rusia, Emilio Lozada García. EmbaCuba Rusia – Cubaminrex

OP/ED: End America’s Perverse Embargo Against Cuba 5

Jesse Jackson meeting with Cuban leader Fidel Castro in Cuba on June 25, 1984.

Jesse Jackson meeting with Cuban leader Fidel Castro in Cuba on June 25, 1984.

By Jesse Jackson, Chicago Sun-Times

When President Barack Obama called on the world to contribute to fighting Ebola in West Africa, the response was, as the Wall Street Journal reported, “underwhelming.” One nation stood up immediately: Cuba dispatched 165 medical personnel to Sierra Leone, the largest single contribution to that country. “Against Ebola, we can work with anyone,” said Jorge Delgado Bustillo, head of the Cuban Sierra Leone Medical Brigade “The United States? Yes, we can.”

Cuba has sent tens of thousands of health workers to aid foreign nations in distress, including 1,500 to Haiti after its 2010 earthquake. The Cubans cooperate with the U.S. on migration issues and in patrolling the seas. The Cubans also aid the U.S. in the wars on drugs and terror, now hosting peace talks between the Colombian government and guerrilla leaders there that even American officials acknowledge are helpful.

Cubans are freer to travel to the U.S. than Americans are to travel to Cuba. The Cubans are expanding private ownership and encouraging foreign investment, with the Brazilians, Europeans, Chinese and Russians all grabbing opportunities. While the Cubans are far from a democracy and continue to curb dissent and limit freedom of assembly, their leaders are slowly opening the country up, while playing a responsible role across the developing world.

And yet America continues to enforce an embargo that began in 1961. The State Department still includes Cuba on its list of terrorist nations.

This perverse policy has helped to isolate the U.S. in its own hemisphere. The U.S. government’s unrelenting opposition to Cuba’s presence at hemispheric meetings has offended virtually all of our neighbors, while isolating the U.S. Now the U.S. has been put on notice: When Latin American governments open the seventh Summit of the Americas in Panama City next spring, Cuba will be in attendance whether Obama comes or not.

The failed embargo against Cuba should have been lifted decades ago. The embargo has been sustained largely for two reasons. First, Castro embarrassed the CIA and the cold warriors, frustrating their attempts to invade the island, destabilize the regime and assassinate him. Second, domestic politics, particularly the passion of Cuban American voters in the swing state Florida, sustained the policy long past its expiration date. But the Cold War is long over, and the new generation of Cuban Americans wants relations opened up.

The New York Times recently called on President Obama to normalize relations with Cuba. Only Congress can fully end the embargo, but the president can expand the right to travel to and invest in the island, and can restore normal diplomatic ties. He might sensibly commute the sentences of the three of the five Cuban men who remain in jail after 16 years, and exchange them for Alan Gross, now imprisoned in Cuba for five years as an American spy.

This could help launch a new era of engagement with our own hemisphere. The U.S. has been so busy across the world that it has neglected — and often scorned — our neighbors. Yet from immigration to terrorism to climate change and economic vitality, good relations with our neighbors are critical.

Ending the outmoded cold war against an island 90 miles off our shore is long overdue. By taking this step, President Obama can revive U.S. leadership in the region and bring to an end an historic embarrassment.

Cuban 5 Activist Lobbies For Spy-Terrorists at Nebraska Peace Conference 1

Jacquie Henderson

Jacquie Henderson

By Chris Simmons 

The leftist newspaper, The Militant, reported on “Free The 5” efforts at a Nebraska Peace Conference in early October. The event reportedly drew over 100 attendees to discuss issues from the war in the Middle East to the environment. When the attendees broke for lunch, Nebraskans For Peace (NFP) President Mark Vasina invited everyone to see an art display by jailed Cuban spy Antonio Guerrero. He also introduced Jacquie Henderson, who helped organize the showing, to share a pro-Castro perspective on the spy-terrorists.

Apparently oblivious to the apartheid practices of the Castro dictatorship, Henderson lauded three of the jailed spies for having served in Angola against a “white supremacist South African regime.” In the end, dozens of people reportedly looked at the paintings. The newspaper also reported that 11 attendees “picked up” books authored by Guerrero or Castro apologists, suggesting that they may have been given away free.



Today in Havana: Career Spy to Moderate Discussion of Professor LeoGrande’s New Book, “Back Channel to Cuba” 2

American University professor, Dr. William M. Leogrande

American University professor, Dr. William M. Leogrande

By Chris Simmons

Today in Havana, the new book by William M. Leogrande and Peter Komubluh, ¨Back Channel to Cuba. The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana,¨ will be presented at the Villena room of the Cuban Association of Writers and Artists (UNEAC). Also being discussed is the expanded second edition of a book on Cuba-US relations by a pair of Cuban authors. According to Cubarte, the session is being moderated by Ramón Sánchez Parodi.

Ramón Sánchez Parodi Montoto was the first chief at the Cuban Interests Section when Washington and Havana re-established diplomatic mission on September 1, 1977. This career spy served in Washington for 12 consecutive years. During this assignment, Sánchez Parodi was exposed as an intelligence officer during the Senate testimony of Dr Daniel James of the Congressional Research Service. James said Sánchez Parodi, whom he cited as either Directorate of Intelligence (DI) or America Department (DA), targeted the Congressional Black Caucus to foment opposition to existing US policies towards Cuba. According to the New York Times, Sánchez Parodi was extremely well connected to the US academic, civic, cultural, and business communities. He was promoted to Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs immediately following his US tour. His portfolio was the Western Hemisphere.

During the latter half of the 1990s, Sánchez Parodi was Cuba’s Ambassador to Brazil. Following this tour, he returned to Havana to head the Department of International Relations for Cuban Customs.

Alleged Cuba-Venezuela Spy Network Targets Maduro’s Opposition in Chile 3

 María Laura Liscano speaks out against the Castro regime’s harassment of the Venezuelan opposition in Chile. (Terra)

María Laura Liscano speaks out against the Castro regime’s harassment of the Venezuelan opposition in Chile. (Terra)

Activist María Liscano Condemns Espionage under Diplomatic Cover

Belén Marty, PanAm Post

On Tuesday, Venezuelan activist María Laura Liscano denounced Cuban espionage against opponents of the Nicolás Maduro regime who reside in Chile, following Monday’s report by Chilean television station Mega.

Liscano calls herself a spokesperson for Venezuelans in Chile, where she has lived the past four years since leaving her job as an intelligence analyst for the Venezuelan government.

The Mega report focuses on a Cuban national who claims to be an agent for a Cuban diplomat in Santiago, Chile. The individual claims the diplomat ordered him to infiltrate the leadership of Venezuelan opposition groups operating in Chile, and report on their activity.

“The espionage is coordinated by the Cuban embassy, and is directed at certain sectors in Chile that oppose Maduro. This is not the first time this has happened. In 2010, a Cuban leader in Chile denounced a similar practice being carried out against the Cuban community,” Liscano said.

The Venezuelan activist told the PanAm Post that she was surprised by the revelation that Cuban agents were focused on her: “It’s one thing to recognize that you are exposing yourself, but the reality [that they are spying on me] is another thing entirely.”

“We always knew that we were vulnerable to espionage; there have been many times when we were protesting, and people who are opposed to us would come and take pictures,” she said.

Liscano said she represents a nonpartisan Venezuelan community that share the same concerns expressed by student protesters who took to the streets in Venezuela in February.

Feature continues here (with video and audio clips): PanAm Post





Family of Aid Worker Wants US Government to Bring Him Back Home Reply

United States citizen Alan Gross has been imprisoned in Cuba since being arrested in 2009. He is currently serving a 15 year sentence for “acts against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.” A government subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development (US-AID), the government’s international development agency, Gross was working to provide internet/intranet access to Cuban citizens in Jewish communities.

Cuban Diplomat Requests Asylum in USA 2

Daciel Alfonso (left), Deputy Chief of Cuba’s Diplomatic Mission in Germany, next to his wife, Consul Sonia Franco.  (Courtesy:  Facebook)

Daciel Alfonso (left), Deputy Chief of Cuba’s Diplomatic Mission in Germany, next to his wife, Consul Sonia Franco. (Courtesy: Facebook)

By Wilfredo Cancio Isla (Cafe Fuerte)

HAVANA TIMES – Cuban journalist and diplomat Sonia Franco Cervera has abandoned her post as consul at the Cuban Embassy in Germany and is currently in Miami, after having requested political asylum from US authorities.

Sources told CafeFuerte that the 31-year-old Franco arrived in the United States in July this year, accompanied by her 3-year-old son Franco, after travelling from Berlin to Mexico and crossing the US border to invoke the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA).

Apparently, Franco’s decision was prompted by the unexpected trip and subsequent arrest in Havana of her husband Daciel Alfonso Guzman, who was the deputy chief of Cuba’s diplomatic mission in Germany.

“We don’t know much about what happened, but it is confirmed that Daciel [Alfonso] was called to a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX) in Havana and that he suspected something was wrong,” a source involved in the case stated in Berlin. “They made the decision that she go to the United States with the kid.”

Erased from the Official Site

According to another testimony, Franco’s first move was to request aid from the US Embassy in Berlin. Her request didn’t yield any results and she decided to use her diplomatic passport to travel to Mexico. She is currently staying in the home of some friends in Miami.

CafeFuerte tried to contact Franco in Miami, but desisted after several unsuccessful attempts. A person involved in this situation said that the former diplomat is going through a very tense moment and does not wish to make any declarations about what happened.

For the time being, Alfonso’s name has been removed from the webpage of the Cuban Embassy in Germany and a blank space has been left under the heading of Deputy Chief, with an email left as reference. Belkis Rodriguez Hidalgo appears as the First Secretary in the Consular Section page.

“We’ve heard versions of the story here that Daciel was called to give a full accounting following complaints about the performance of his duties, but nothing concrete has been leaked and people suspect there is something more serious behind this,” a source linked to MINREX said in Havana.

Feature continues here: Diplomat Defects



Cuba Awards Medals to US “Cuban Five” Activists Reply

Alicia Jrapko and Bill Hackwell

Alicia Jrapko and Bill Hackwell

By Chris Simmons

Argentine-born activist Alicia Jrapko and her life partner, Bill Hackwell, were awarded the Cuban Friendship Medal by the Cuban State Council late last week. The dubious honor was initiated by the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples of the World (ICAP). Both activists work for the International Committee for the Release of the Cuban Five. Jrapko later spoke at a press conference with reporters at ICAP, where she lavished praise on the incarcerated spies. ICAP’s role in these honorifics is undoubtedly tied to long-term collaboration with the Directorate of Intelligence (DI), which dates back over 30 years. That said, ICAP is not a DI entity per se, but is believed to be roughly 90% DI-affiliated due to a large pool of collaborators who serve the small team of ICAP-embedded DI officers.

Raúl Castro propuso a Obama un ‘canal de comunicación secreto’ 2

El famoso apretón de manos entre Barack Obama y Raúl Castro durante los funerales de Nelson Mandela en el FNB Stadium de Soweto, Sudáfrica, el 10 de diciembre del 2013.Uncredited/Associated Press

El famoso apretón de manos entre Barack Obama y Raúl Castro durante los funerales de Nelson Mandela en el FNB Stadium de Soweto, Sudáfrica, el 10 de diciembre del 2013.Uncredited/Associated Press

By Nora Gámez Torres,

La administración del presidente Barack Obama utilizó al embajador español Miguel Ángel Moratinos en el 2009 para hacer llegar un mensaje a Raúl Castro y pedir una acción que reciprocara su decisión de eliminar, tras llegar a la Casa Blanca, las restricciones a los viajes de los cubanoamericanos.

En el libro Back Channel to Cuba, The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana, Peter Kornbluh y William LeoGrande reproducen el mensaje enviado a Castro: “Diga a la autoridades cubanas que entendemos que las cosas no pueden cambiar de la noche a la mañana, pero que a lo largo del camino, cuando miremos atrás, deberá quedar claro que este fue el momento en que las cosas comenzaron a cambiar”.

Raúl Castro envió de vuelta una propuesta de abrir un “canal de comunicación secreto”, pero la Casa Blanca replicó que cualquier conversación debía entablarse a través de los “canales establecidos”.

Los autores del libro, que recoge la historia de las negociaciones secretas entre Cuba y Estados Unidos en los últimos 55 años, señalan que aunque Obama ha reconocido que una política hostil es fútil, no ha tenido más voluntad que sus predecesores en romper este impasse. Las razones quizá están en las “lecciones” que los autores resumen casi al final del texto: “Estados Unidos se ha contentado con vivir en un ‘antagonismo perpetuo’ hacia Cuba porque los costos han sido relativamente bajos, y cambiar la política supone riesgos políticos domésticos que los sucesivos presidentes han juzgado como muy grandes”.

Pero Kornbluh aseguró a el Nuevo Herald que las “lecciones” tienen que ver con lo que ha sucedido en los últimos 55 años, y no con el contexto actual.

“La política doméstica sí es un gran impedimento desde el fin de la Guerra Fría pero hay cosas que están cambiando en términos de la opinión pública en Miami y Florida”, en parte como resultado de la propia política de Obama de permitir viajar más libremente a los cubanoamericanos a Cuba, señaló.

Otro factor mencionado por el autor es que Obama es un presidente demócrata en su segundo mandato, por lo que no está tan preocupado por las repercusiones de un cambio de política.

“Florida claramente no está siendo considerada por Hillary Clinton como un estado con un voto decisivo y ella ha hecho pública su posición de que el embargo es una mala idea para la política exterior estadounidense. Estados Unidos tiene también imperativos regionales para cambiar su política. Mira por ejemplo lo que ha pasado con la Cumbre de las Américas, en la que es Estados Unidos el que está aislado y no Cuba”, agregó.

Read more here: Back Channel






California Mayor Under Fire For Focusing On Cuban Spies Rather Than Local Residents Reply

Gayle McLaughlin -- Mayor of Richmond, California

Gayle McLaughlin — Mayor of Richmond, California

Richmond mayor faces heat for lobbying for Cuban Five in Washington D.C. instead of Hacienda residents

By Mike Aldax, Richmond [CA] Standard

In June, Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin boarded a plane for Washington D.C. to lobby for the release of the Cuban Five, the five Cuban intelligence officers who were imprisoned more than a decade ago following espionage-related convictions in Miami.

During the trip, McLaughlin said she met with the state department regarding the jailed Cubans, who she said were “always in my heart.”

But some community members say the mayor has failed to keep in her heart the plight of Richmond’s most vulnerable residents.

The mayor did not use her D.C. trip as an opportunity to lobby for Richmond’s public housing tenants, despite February media reports exposing squalid conditions under an allegedly mismanaged and corrupt Richmond Housing Authority (RHA).

“What about pushing and advocating for Richmond?” outspoken resident Antoin Cloird said in a June 17 opinion piece on the community website Radio Free Richmond, adding, “the mayor ordered the immediate evacuation of the Hacienda, but she walked away as soon as the television cameras were off.”

Insect and rodent infestations, water leaks, mold and safety concerns were among the problems at Richmond’s public housing developments, particularly the Hacienda. The problems led RHA Executive Director Tim Jones to call the Hacienda “uninhabitable,” a declaration that moved City Council to vote to relocate its residents.

At the time, the mayor demanded swift action and stated she was “taking responsibility for assuring things continue to move forward without delay on all levels of review and action in regard to these Housing Authority issues.”

A half-year following that statement, however, the mayor has done little to urge swift action from the feds, and the Hacienda remains inhabited.

Richmond City Manager Bill Lindsay says he was unaware of any meeting between McLaughlin and federally-elected officials such as Congressman George Miller on the housing issues. He was also unaware if the mayor had requested any such meeting, although he added he does not monitor her schedule.

The mayor and her political group, Richmond Progressive Alliance, have also neglected to campaign for the plight of RHA residents through their highly active website and social media networks.

Lindsay said the mayor did at one point sit in on a meeting held in Richmond that included an HUD regional director and members of Richmond’s city council, as she was part of an ad-hoc committee created after the problems were exposed.

Rather than seeking assistance from elected federal officials, the mayor has done more to insult them. In an interview with KQED, the mayor blamed President Barack Obama for Richmond’s poor public housing, saying the president has instead sunk “money into war” and “bailed the banks to the tune of $29 trillion.”

The quote comes at about the 6 minutes mark:

Video and remainder of story can be found here: Mayor McLaughlin