Italian Foreign Ministry Says 4 Journalists Detained While on Assignment in Cuba Reply

By The Associated Press

MILAN – The Italian Foreign Ministry says four journalists have been detained in Cuba. The journalists work for the Mediaset TV network, the Messaggero Veneto daily and two for the Milan daily Corriere della Sera.

The Messagero Veneto said the journalists had travelled to Cuba to follow up on a double murder, seeking interviews with a Cuban who had been living in Italy and whose sister has been detained in the case. He denied in an interview with the daily any involvement by himself or his sister. The Messaggero Veneto said on its website Saturday that its correspondent faced a hearing later Saturday. The newspaper said that the four had entered the country with tourist visas and were stopped when because they were working as journalists.

Cuban Jewish Leader Says Alan Gross Fit, in Good Spirits 1

By Jeff Franks in Havana, Sat Sep 29, 2012 5:19am BST

HAVANA (Reuters) – A Cuban Jewish leader said U.S. contractor Alan Gross looked fit and in good spirits when she visited him at the military hospital where he is serving a 15-year prison sentence for crimes against the state.  Adela Dworin, president of the Hebrew Community of Cuba, told Reuters that Gross, 63, was “very depressed” when she last saw him in May, but this time was smiling and more hopeful about the future. Her description of Gross conflicted with that given by his wife, Judy Gross, who said after a recent visit she was “devastated” by his appearance.

The Cuban government has said that Gross is in “normal” health and getting lots of exercise. “We found him to be in good spirits,” Dworin said in a phone interview. “He was doing much better this time, maybe because he believes President (Barack) Obama will be re-elected and that in the next four years relations between Cuba and the United States will improve.” Dworin said she and group’s vice president, David Pristein, visited Gross to mark this week’s Jewish high holiday Yom Kippur.

Gross has been jailed in Cuba since December 2009 in a case that put the brakes on a brief improvement in long-hostile U.S.-Cuba relations. He was installing Internet networks for Jewish groups under a semi-covert U.S. program promoting political change on the communist island. A Cuban court sentenced him to 15 years behind bars in a March 2011 trial.

WIFE’S FEARS

Judy Gross said on September 11 her husband had lost 105 pounds (48 kg) during his incarceration, was suffering from degenerative arthritis and had a “mass” on his shoulder. “While his spirit remains strong, I fear he is not going to survive this terrible ordeal,” she said in a statement issued by Jared Genser, the family’s recently acquired lawyer. Dworin said Gross told her he weighed 147 pounds (67 kg) and had an arthritic hip, but also was lifting weights and doing a lot of walking in a patio at the hospital.

Two photos from the visit showed the once portly, but now gaunt Gross wearing blue jeans and a blue guayabera shirt, accompanied by Dworin and Pristein in a visiting room with black chairs, green walls and a potted plant. “He looked very agile to me,” Dworin said. She said Gross told her the “mass” on his shoulder had been examined by Cuban doctors, found to be benign and the results of the tests sent to the United States. Genser has demanded, so far unsuccessfully, that he be allowed to send a doctor to Cuba to examine Gross.

Dworin said she and Pristein sang a Yom Kippur song with Gross and talked for two hours about issues ranging from his health to the U.S. elections to his interest in Cuban baseball and his love for Cuba, despite his circumstances. “He said that he and his wife both love Cuba and maybe one day they will return to the island for a second honeymoon,” Dworin said. Dworin said it was the seventh time she had visited Gross and would do so again in December during Hanukkah. “I want the world to know that the Cuban Jewish community has not abandoned Alan Gross, ever,” she said. (Reporting By Jeff Franks; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Fidel’s “Revolutionary Collective Surveillance” Neighborhood Spies Create Social Violence and Hatred 2

By Yoani Sanchez

Posted: 09/28/2012 2:52 am

The stew was cooked on firewood collected by some neighbors, the flags hung in the middle of the block and the shouts of Viva! went on past midnight. A ritual repeated with more or less enthusiasm every September 27 throughout the Island. The eve of the 52nd anniversary of the founding of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), the official media celebrate on its commemoration, a song intended to energize those who are a part of the organization with the most members in the entire country, and to dust off the old anecdotes of glory and power.

But beyond these formalities, which are repeated identically each year, we can perceive that the influence of the CDR in Cuban life is in a downward spiral. Gone are the days when we were all “CeDeRistas” and the acronym — with the figure of a man brandishing a machete — still shone brightly on the facades of some houses.

Amid the ongoing decline of its prominence, it’s worth asking if the committees have been a more of source of transmission of power to the citizenry, than a representation of us to the government. The facts leave little room for doubt. Since they were created in 1960, they have had an eminently ideological base, marked by informers. Fidel himself said it during the speech in which he announced their creation:

“We are going to implement, against imperialist campaigns of aggression, a Revolutionary system of collective surveillance where everybody will know who lives on their block and what relations they have with the tyranny; and what they devote themselves to; who they meet with; what activities they are involved in.”

These words from the Maximum Leader are now difficult to find reproduced in full on national websites and newspapers. In part because, despite the unconditional support for the Commander in Chief, the current editors of these spaces know very well that such language is totally out of sync with the 21st century.

Read the entire feature here:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yoani-sanchez/fidels-revolutionary-coll_b_1921751.html

Today in History: Spy Targeted Missouri’s Agricultural Leaders 1

September 26-28, 2000:  Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer Gustavo Machin Gomez visited Missouri at the invitation of the Missouri Farm Bureau. Machin, farmers, and local business leaders discussed future trade opportunities for rice and other products.  Prior to the imposition of the US embargo, the US had been the largest exporter of rice to the island.

An expert in understanding and targeting the US government, Machin was one of roughly four dozen “US Targets” officers in the entire Cuban Intelligence Community.  A seasoned spy, he was subsequently expelled from the US for espionage.

For more background on this spy, see:  http://cubaconfidential.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/senior-spy-spinning-death-of-cuban-dissident-oswaldo-paya/

Text of US Senate Letter to President Castro 3

September 24, 2012

 

President Raúl Castro

Republic of Cuba

c/o Cuban Interests Section

2630 16th Street, NW

Washington, D.C. 20009

 

Dear President Castro:

We are writing to express our serious and ongoing concern regarding the detention of Alan Gross, an American citizen, and to urge you to release him from prison on humanitarian grounds. As you are aware, Mr. Gross was a U.S.-government subcontractor who was arrested on December 3, 2009. He was tried and sentenced to 15 years in prison for alleged “actions against the independence or territorial integrity of the state.”

Since his arrest, Mr. Gross has lost 105 pounds (47.63 kg). He has degenerative arthritis and a mass behind his shoulder, which he fears may become permanent. He also suffers from mental anguish because of separation from his family, several of whom have serious medical conditions. Specifically, his daughter has been diagnosed and is being treated for breast cancer. And his 90-year-old mother, to whom he is exceptionally close, was diagnosed with inoperable cancer in February 2011. Her condition continues to deteriorate and they both fear they will be unable to see each other again.

Members of the Senate have traveled to your country, written to you and your dignitaries, and employed other creative means to encourage Mr. Gross’s release. Yet these attempts thus far have been futile, and Mr. Gross’s ongoing detention in your country presents a major obstacle to any further actions to improve our bilateral relations.

We very much hope that you will take our concerns seriously. As we approach the three-year anniversary of Alan’s imprisonment, we call on you to take action and grant him the belated release his situation warrants.

Sincerely,

Led by Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Jerry Moran (R-KS),  the letter was also signed by Richard Durbin (D-IL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Carl Levin (D-MI), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Al Franken (D-MN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tom Udall (D-NM), Mark Begich (D-AK), Dean Heller (R-NV), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Charles Schumer (D-NY), John Cornyn (R-TX), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Robert P. Casey (D-PA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Jack Reed (D-RI), John F. Kerry (D-MA), Thomas R. Carper (D-DE), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Mark Warner (D-VA), John McCain (R-AZ), Tom Coburn (R-OK), John Boozman (R-AR), Roger F. Wicker (R-Miss.), Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-NY), Dan Coats (R-IN), Mark L. Pryor (D-AR), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).

US Senators Urge Cuba to Release American Alan Gross Reply

* Senators urge Gross be released on “humanitarian grounds”

* American has spent almost three years in jail

* Gross case has frozen U.S.-Cuban relations

MIAMI, Sept 25 (Reuters) – A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators has sent a letter to Cuban President Raul Castro urging the release of an American contractor jailed in Cuba for nearly three years, saying his detention is “a major obstacle” to improving relations. The letter, signed by 44 senators, is the strongest appeal yet by members of Congress in the case of Alan Gross, who is serving a 15-year sentence for illegally setting up Internet networks in Cuba. In the letter, the senators urge Cuba to release Gross, 63, on humanitarian grounds, saying he has lost 105 pounds (47.63 kg) since his arrest and suffers from degenerative arthritis and an untreated mass behind his shoulder. “He also suffers from mental anguish because of separation from his family, several of whom have serious medical conditions,” the letter states, noting that his daughter is being treated for breast cancer and his 90-year-old mother has also been diagnosed with inoperable cancer.

Gross’ imprisonment has halted efforts by President Barack Obama to improve long-hostile relations between the two countries just 90 miles (145 km) apart. “Mr Gross’s ongoing detention in your country presents a major obstacle to any further actions to improve our bilateral relations,” the letter states. His wife, Judy Gross, said earlier this month she feared for her husband’s life because his health is deteriorating. Cuba has said, however, that his condition is “normal,” noting that he is being held in a military hospital and not a prison. Gross’ lawyers have asked that an independent medical examination be conducted by a doctor of the family’s choosing.

Full article here:  US Senators Urge Cuba to Release American Alan Gross

Today in History: Cuba Prepared to Run Chile as a “Puppet” State Reply

September 25, 1970:  Luis Fernandez de Ona, the outgoing Desk Officer for Chile within the National Liberation Directorate (DLN), arrived in Santiago for his follow-on assignment as a Counselor Officer at the Cuban Embassy. Fernandez and Beatriz “Tati” Allende, lovers since 1968, had recently married. Her father, Salvador Allende, was elected President in November 1970.  “Tati” Allende soon became her father’s closest political advisor.

Despite Castro’s recommendation for a publicly slow warming of relations, Allende’s administration established relations with Cuba on November 12th. Two days later, Mario Garcia Inchaustegui presented his credentials as the new Cuban Ambassador.  Almost ten years earlier, in January 1961, Uruguay had expelled Inchaustegui (posted as the Cuban Ambassador) for subversive activities.

Editor’s Note:  The DLN was a 400-man element, previously assigned to the DGI, which oversaw support to foreign revolutionary movements.  It later became the infamous America Department (DA). 

Cuban Spy Attended Toronto “People’s Tribunal” 1

The Cuban News Agency (ACN) and Prensa Latina (PRELA) have reported that Adriana Pérez and Elizabeth Palmeiro, wives of Gerardo Hernandez and Ramon Labañino, participated in last weekend’s People’s Tribunal & Assembly in Toronto.  According to ACN, the two women denounced the US for incarcerating their spy-husbands and “thanked participants and organizers for their solidarity.”

Cuban media failed to mention that, following the arrests of 10 members of the Wasp Network, Adriana Pérez O’Connor was identified as a Cuban intelligence agent.  Her mission was to courier messages and material between Havana and Miami.  Still in training as a Directorate of Intelligence (DI) asset when the spy ring was beheaded in September 1998, she and her children were deported and permanently banned re-entry visas.

Adriana and Elizabeth

OPED: Propaganda Without Justice — The Toronto People’s Tribunal 1

One cannot help but laugh at the hypocrisy of the Canadian Comedy Club, also known as the “Peoples’ Tribunal & Assembly | Justice for the Five.”  The following extractfrom theirwebsite (http://canadiannetworkoncuba.ca/tribunal/index.html) demanded comment: 

“How will the Tribunal be run?

The tribunal will take place on September 22nd. During the proceedings lawyers from Canada, Cuba and the US will provide details of the areas where there was the greatest miscarriage of justice in the courts of south Florida. The Tribunal will hear from impact witnesses and also experts from Europe, Canada, the US and Cuba. The families of the Cuban Five will bear testimony to their hardships concerning the barriers to prisoner rights and denial of visits imposed on them.  [Emphasis added by Cuba Confidential]”

Webster’s dictionary defines tribunal as “a court or forum of justice.”  However, yesterday’s tribunal offered neither an open forum nor justice.  As noted above, the tribunal only heard evidence AGAINST the United States.  This unjust panel featured a de facto prosecuting team, but made no allowance for a defense team or even an unbiased fact-checker.  Based on the arbitrary and prejudicial standards emplaced, it is safe to say that this tribunal, given the chance, would have convicted a squirrel of stealing acorns.

The People’s Tribunal was not only blatantly biased, but it also made for very poor propaganda, as evidenced by the lack of media coverage.  But then again, perhaps that was the greatest justice of all……

 

Is Cuba’s New Ambassador to Syria a Retired Spy? 1

Speculation is growing that Fernando Perez Maza, Havana’s newly-appointed Ambassador to Damascus, is a recently-retired Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer.

Until recently, Perez Maza had served largely “under the radar” as a First Secretary, most likely since August 2006, when his wife – Ana Belkis Cabrera Arregui – arrived. His presence was discovered on this Facebook page of all Syrian-based embassies and their staff:  http://www.facebook.com/note.php? note_id=316110911755880. In contrast, this link to Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX) diplomatic roster lists fewer and more junior, Embassy staff:  http://www.cubadiplomatica.cu/ siria/EN/Home.aspx

From roughly 1995-2002, Perez Maza served as a First Secretary at the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, DC. While in Washington, he gained notoriety for his involvement in a brutal attack on a crowd protesting the forced return of rescued rafter, Elian Gonzalez.  The “Elian scenario” is known to have been run almost exclusively as a DI propaganda operation.

In the late 1980s, Perez Maza was a Third Secretary at the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City.

President Bashar al-Assad of Syria receives credentials in Damascus from Cuba’s new ambassador to Syria, Fernando Perez Massa (Reuters)